Friday, July 20, 2012

Here's A Thought: Cover Controversy

I remember earlier in the year I digging through some of the pictures on Book Riot's Facebook page when I stumbled upon this both surprising and very interesting grouping of pie charts breaking down the groups of people represented on Young Adult book covers.
I do not take credit for this photo. This picture was found here.

 Learning the statistics of the different groups being used on covers really made me realize how wide of a gap there is in what models are being chosen as models. What really surprised me was how characters of no defined ethnicity appears more than twice as much as the use of the models in the three lesser used character ethnicity.

After examining this photo for quite a while and thinking of it for much longer, I searched for the source of this eye opening piece of information. I was brought here where facts of various themes in covers.

Another very interesting statistic that I found was the use of male and female models on covers.
I do not take credit for this photo. Picture was found here.

This too made me really think about Young Adult literature today. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love YA and I think I always will, but when you really think about the groups of people that these books are targeting, you realize a lot more about the books, and the way they are marketed of specific groups thinking they will bring in larger readership.

I remember once hearing or reading something that Gary Paulsen once said about writing. He was once told by someone that he shouldn't even try to write for a boy readership, that he should write for girls because boys don't read. My thought on that is, if you only write what a girl would be interested in reading, than sure. Boy's won't read as much as girls. But if time is taken to appeal to all groups, than maybe a lot more people would be willing to read for the sake of reading in this world.

If you want to look at more interesting statistics about covers in 2011 please check out this website and please comment below with your thoughts.


  1. I see this disparity daily in my job as a school librarian. My school is 80% black with 15% white and the rest a mix of hispanic and Asian. I look for book covers and books that feature black characters. There aren't many. What often bothers
    Me is that books w black main characters are labeled "urban fiction" which seems to relegate African americans to urban areas which annoys me. I agree that if we make more fiction for boys (referencing the Paulsen story) more boys will read. There is a group of girls (they're African American) in my school who I never see in the media center reading isn't cool. But once I started buying the Drama High and KimaniTru books I started seeing them more often. On a humorous (an sobering) note one who I still haven't seen in the media center came in finally, looked straight at me an said "ok Ms. W where are the black people books?! I heard you finally have some!" this made me laugh but also made me wish the publishing industry could appeal more to teens like her who want to read about characters they feel they could be and connect with. For more experienced readers we know connecting with characters isn't about race or even gender at times, but a lot of teens don't have that much experience.

    Omg I wrote a blog post! Sorry for typos I'm on my phone.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, I love your ideas and stories!

  2. This is a great post! Personally, I would love to see the trend of having models on book covers disappear. I think it would be really great to see more illustrations and cool designs and things. I'm kind of sick of looking at my shelves and seeing a thousand books with girls' faces. Especially when they don't even look like the actual character! Don't get me wrong, I've definitely seen some amazing covers featuring a white girl, but there are just way too many of them. Unfortunately, these are the covers that sell, so even with these statistics, will anything change?

    I could go on and on about this topic, haha! So I guess I'd better shut up now instead of writing a whole book in the comments section. :D But anyway, I really like this post, Erika! It's definitely a conversation-starter.

  3. I saw this post sometime, I honestly can't remember when. But I can't believe the amount of work the person who created these images put into this!! It's insane. But it's also really great as well, since we get to see the cover trends. I'm getting a bit cover of the stereotypical white girl in pretty dress thing. Sure, some of my favorite covers have that, but there's always something MORE going on in the background. And it makes me sad that brown people aren't even included on this list! =(

    I really do hope that the publishers take a look at these statistics and change some things. Lots of the newer covers have started straying from the normal trends, which is really getting me excited! I'm happy that I'll have some new stuff to stare at on my bookshelves. ;)

    Fabulous post, Erika! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life