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Sunday, October 17, 2010

YA Bloggers Want...Books Incognito: Little Willow

I have to admit when my editor sent me the early draft of the TELL ME A SECRET cover, I was thrilled - the picture is breathtaking and captures the undercurrents of the story.

But what if I wasn't so lucky? What if I hated it? What if everyone hated it?

Little Willow--brilliant blogger at Bildungsroman, writer, singer, dancer, actor, and dear friend--is here to propose something even more outrageous. More breathtaking.

What if...gasp...books went incognito? This is a tantalizing idea to me, and I'm curious what you readers think.

Welcome, Little Willow!


You know what I'd like to see on the YA shelf, or on all shelves, for that matter? Books with plain covers that simply bear titles and bylines. I know the art and marketing departments of various publishing houses would be shocked by this endeavor, but think of the results such an experiment would yield. People would actually have to pick up a book and READ the first few pages in order to discover the premise of the story. Perish the thought!

Really, though. Think about how it would be if book covers were as plain and simple as they used to be years ago. You wouldn't be drawn to (or perhaps not drawn to) a book because of the model on the cover. You wouldn't be upset when you saw a flawless blonde depicted on the cover when the main character is actually a nearsighted brunette. Instead of being repulsed by the awkwardly combined photos and clip art (When Good PhotoShop Goes Bad: Coming up next on the 10 o'Clock News!) you would be curious to discover what the title meant and who was telling the story and why.

The books might surprise you - and you might surprise yourself when you discover what you really look for when you go hunting for a good book!

Here are three wonderful YA novels with titles and covers which may deceive you:

Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke (LW's review here)
Swollen by Melissa Lion (LW's review here)
The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti (LW's review here)


Thank you, Little Willow, for coming to celebrate YALSA's Teen Read Week and National Book Month with us!

Readers, what do you think about Books Incognito? Do you judge a book by its cover? I admit I sometimes do, though I primarily rely on friends' recommendations. Comment for a chance to win this week's book prizes! (US addresses only.)


  1. I DEFINITELY judge books by their covers. I am totally guilty of this. I think it's usually not in a negative way, though. I don't not read a book because of its cover if I like the blurb on the back of the book. But, I have read books only for their covers. Sometimes this leads me to a new author or a surprising love for a new title. But, other times, the cover is the only part of the book that I enjoy.

    I do love covers, though, and think that there are plenty that I'd like to frame.

  2. I am totally guilty of judging books by their cover! I know I shouldn't, but I can't help it!

    ako4eggs at comcast dot net

  3. I totally judge a book by its cover and I don't exactly think there is anything wrong with that. I don't read a good bok and say I loved it but it wasn't great because it's cover sucked. I just am swayed to read a book by it's cover.

  4. Thanks for the comments, Mrs. DeRaps, ako4eggs, and Jess Day! I dare you to grab a book off of the shelf by the spine, then close your eyes until you've flipped the book over to the back, and read just the summary...

  5. Judge?...no. Influenced?...YES. Remember?...Yes. There's never been a book that I haven't read because I hated the cover so much, but I definitely pick up books w/covers that appeal first. On the other hand, unless the author is on my auto-read list or I'm going in for that specific book, I end up reading the back, and a chapter or a few passages to see if the story and the author's voice is something I'd like. I'm a lot more likely to be put off by a horrible flap description than a god-awful cover.

    Cover art (at least for me) are kind of like landscaping and front of house appeal. They help when you're giving directions/trying to find something--you know...'turn left at the house with the horrid orange gingerbread trim, go down another 2 blocks, we're #blah blah blah on the left, grey flagstone path w/the big sycamore out front and the flying pig mailbox--If you hit the huge purple victorian w/mermaid mosiac you've gone to far. vs. hang a left at the corner of the second block then straight for a bit, we're XXX house down, #etc.-the gray one the left.....You can do the same with cover-art. Go into a bookstore and say, 'my mind's blanking on the author-but it's got this blondish girl in a green formal dress sitting in a bubble, white background--or the cover's completely black with some kind of gold bird thing and a font that's somewhat military' you have a better chance of finding it then saying 'the author's name is...umm Julie...uhh Jody..June, well a girl's name that starts w/a "J" and the cover is this really nodescript blueish or maybe purple...well somewhere in between, but anyways, it's about this girl in highschool...' considerablely harder to find.

    As for influence, while a bad cover won't stop me from reading something that seems good (I almost always spend reading descriptions and flipping thru pages to see if it's something I want), a good or spectacular cover will often cause me to buy a book that seems blahish or unappealing otherwise.

    Also, cover art is something that I factor in when deciding whether or not a want to buy it in hardcover or reprint.

  6. I would not be a fan of the movement, not the say the idea isn’t cool, but I love photography and I am so thrilled by the emerging art merging with YA. I wouldn’t want to give that up and I love beautiful photography; my book shelf is my very favorite place to display it.
    I also want to be aware if I am delving into certain books, I don’t like witch-craft, wizardy, evil magic, demonica, or the like, so I have to base any paranormal book I read on a cover to cover basis. Other people may not have this beef with paranormal, but they may hate reading a book about secret societies, or a book revolving around death or suicicide and covers make it easy to sade step the books we have no interest in.
    Book covers are also a great market for the books you want. I love contemp books about the affects of bullying and how they can result in suicide. I love sad books that have the ability to be redeemed. I love hope and a hopeful cover.
    I could do without so many models, however, and The Sky is Everywhere is a great testement to how awesome and respresentative a cover can be for a story, sans-model.

    I don't judge a book by it's cover, more I judge a book by it's title.

  7. For me a title is way more influential than a cover - if a title is blah, I might not pick up a book. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is a great example of a book that wins both on title and representative cover.

    Speaking of bullying stories, there is an anthology coming soon of bullying stories gathered from YA authors (myself included!) by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. I'm not sure when it's scheduled to release, but I'm really looking forward to it!

  8. Holly, please let me know when the anthology has a title and a release date!

  9. I DEFINITELY judge the covers but it's really just the cover that makes me pick up the book and read the blurb inside...if I like the blurb, I take the book, otherwise, I don't.