Best Book Covers of 2013 — And How Much Do Covers Matter?

Posted on the 12 January 2014 by Curlygeek04 @curlygeek04

I wanted to share a cool post from Stainless Steel Droppings on some of the best science fiction and fantasy covers of 2013.  Most of these aren’t books I’ve read, but on the covers alone I now want to read The Misfortune Cookie, Love Minus Eighty, and A Natural History of Dragons.  The name that jumped out at me was Jon Dos Santos, who creates the Mercy Thompson covers for one of my favorite series by Patricia Briggs.

frost burned

Science fiction and fantasy series tend to have, in my opinion, pretty bad covers that scream “genre fiction.”  They are either overly aimed at the guys, or hyper-sexualized, which for some reason is supposed to appeal to women.  No guy is reading these books that feature women in super-tight leather corsets holding bad-ass weapons (in stilletos of course, if you get to see that far down).

The Mercy Thompson covers, while they don’t always get every detail of the books, don’t have to.  They feature Mercy as tough, not overly gorgeous and not hyper-sexual.  And usually the pictures have something to do with her being an auto mechanic, not a super-ninja.

Sadly, there’s controversy brewing about the next Mercy cover on Night Broken, out in March.  Mercy is not only prettied-up, she’s umm… inflated?  As my husband would say (and did), those boobs are definitely not natural.  And then there’s the overload of tattoos and the faux Native American earrings, and she looks oddly elvish (she’s not).  Briggs’ husband Mike comments on Amazon that they had little to do with the publisher’s decision (though also noting he enjoys this cover).  

night broken

Then I went back and looked at the Mercy covers, and I will say that 1 and 2 (still Dos Santos) are pretty horrible, but that was before most of us were reading.  I remember recommending this series to a few people at work and having someone tell me that based on the cover, there’s no way they could read it.

I like Book 3 and most of the ones that come after it (except River Marked was a little lame).  And again, I’m talking about these covers relative to the dreck that is most urban fantasy covers.

I’ve talked about this before, but it made me think about the role of book covers when most of us are e-reading.  Do covers still matter?  I think so – a cheesy cover will influence whether I buy a book, even if it’s an e-book.  True, I don’t have to worry about what people on the Metro will think, but then I didn’t worry about that much anyway.  It does make a difference whether I choose to buy a book in the first place.  Even knowing an author doesn’t have much say about how a book is published, it still tells me something about the book (see my upcoming review of Labor Day).   Most of the time.

I will say to the new and indie-published authors out there, covers do make a difference when I’m deciding whether to review a book.  So many self-published books have really cheesy looking covers.  I know you don’t have the graphics resources of big publishers, but it’s not a question of polish, just presentation.

ocean at the end
Some of my favorite covers of the year?  Most of the books I read had pretty uninteresting covers, although I did like The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Maya’s Notebook.  One of my favorite covers would be Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, since this stuffed mouse actually features prominently in this book (and because the book is damn funny). 

What do you think?  Do covers matter?  What about a cover will make you look at a book, or make you NOT buy a book?

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