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.