Sunday, 1 June 2008

An extended sneer at Australia's bestsellers [Part One]

Something I've been meaning to do for a while is a post which looks at the covers of the ten best-selling books. It hasn't happened yet, because the top ten are invariably, as a group, uninspiring when it comes to cover design. But then I thought to myself, "You're supposed to be caustic, aren't you? They don't need to be good for your purposes!"

So here we go: an extended sneer at the covers for Australia's current best-selling books.

10: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Subtitled "One Woman's Search for Everything", this is one of those female midlife crisis books: Gilbert ditches husband, family, home, and pisses off to Europe to eat food and fuck strangers. Back in my bookselling days I remember selling a lot of copies of Mary Moody's autobiography Au Revoir, which was the same story, to a lot of frustrated middle-aged women. At least they weren't out buying turbocharged penis-substitute sports cars like their husbands. The cover designer's not done a bad job here: the type treatment is quite clever. The copies in bookshops usually seem to have the ugly Oprah-recommended sticker on them, though. A nice try, I suppose, and better than the book deserves.

9: Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
Does what it's supposed to, in that it features the 2 standard elements of every crime novel cover published in the last 10 years. One: moody photo in subdued, depressing colours that features no human faces. Two: Big author name, smaller title. Like so (all these images are from Amazon UK's current top-twenty crime novels--click for bigger versions):

It's sad, because some of these would be genuinely arresting photographs for covers if they didn't look so identikit in design.

8: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
There seems to be a huge boom in romantic/erotic/horror novel series these days, spawned by the daft Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton, and presumably all descended from Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat potboilers. And here's another one, book two in a series. The cover's not bad for this sort of thing: at least it doesn't look like a Mills & Boon & Bloodsuckers the way a lot of these things do:

7: This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
Penguin's infuriating promo website for this book says, 'Honest. Funny. Reliable. Trust Marian.' In other words, they mean unthreatening, predictable Irish-flavoured chick lit. The cover's dull and unthreatening too. And do you think Marian knew that the original Smiths song from which she pinched her title was about a predatory homosexual picking up a boy whose bicycle has suffered a punctured tyre on a remote road?

6: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
See number eight, above. Also, it's another one of these, only without the nudity.

Books one to five will follow soon.

1 comment:

Craig D. said...

For a Few Demons More?

I had to find out. Sure enough, this series (which I'm sure is just a masterpiece of literature -- after all, it's a New York Times bestseller, an indicator of quality if there ever was one) also includes A Fistful of Charms and The Good, the Bad, and the Undead. There's also The Outlaw Demon Wails and Every Which Way But Dead.

I'm sure the author was patting herself on the back for coming up with titles that she thought were unbelievably clever, but I feel like someone just took a shit on my brain.

On the other hand, I now feel a lot less guilty about every single piece of cheap paperback pulp fiction that currently sits on my bookshelf.