Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Live Nude Authors!

An odd intermittent trend is for some female writers to appear nude on the front of their own books.







My first thought would be that this would be to get male readers to buy the books, but then some of these books are aimed almost entirely at women (except for the Pamela Anderson "novel", the target audience for which is utterly mystifying). I can't think of any books by men where the authors pose nude on the front. Can anyone out there suggest any?

Female nudity on book covers is, of course, very common (see an earlier discussion here). Male nudity, aside from photos of Michelangelo's 'David' or the covers of romance/porn novels, is almost non-existent. Yet we're frequently told that women buy most books.

While we're on the topic, certain images used on book covers discussed in earlier nudity-themed posts have cropped up again elsewhere.

Here's Ben Stockley's photo from the York Hall Russian Baths (discussed here) on four covers...






..and another photo (first discussed here) on three.





It should be noted that Ediciones Nowtilus are more scared of pubic hair than some other publishers.

20 comments:

John Self said...

Jeanette Winterson appeared naked on the cover of a foreign edition of The Passion, though I can't find the image.

JRSM said...

Blimey. Did she also claim that hers was the best naked body the world had ever seen? That no other naked body in the world could compare with hers? That her own naked body was, in fact, a work of unrivalled brilliance?

James Bridle said...

Yous hould check out the Erotica Cover Watch blog for strongly-worded discussion of why naked women are always on erotica covers, even when the books are aimed at straight women...

(Bookkake scraped through their audit. Phew!)

JRSM said...

A lucky escape! Thanks for that link: a really interesting, if occasionally alarming, blog.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

A link I thought you may enjoy: http://ajourneyroundmyskull.blogspot.com/2009/05/subterranean-adventures-in-south.html

Steerforth said...

I draw the line at AS Byatt.

JRSM said...

Ian: Those covers are gorgeous. Indeed, that whole blog is amazing.

Steerforth: [Shudders]

TringulaDating said...

What a nice blog with a lot of great posts... really the nice one

JRSM said...

Thanks!

Craig D. said...

As for men posing nude on the covers of their books, there was Howard Stern on the cover of Private Parts.

JRSM said...

I had repressed that one!

Ian Shimkoviak said...

This might be the lost cover: http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n12/n62730.jpg

JRSM said...

That could well be the one--the shadowed face makes it hard to tell.

Craig D. said...

I've seen this photo (http://tinyurl.com/355apc5) numerous times. It's of Patricia Highsmith, taken in the 1940s. And while it was certainly never used on a cover, I remember one source stating that it was used as an author photo. If that's true then it must have been in Europe, because it's nearly impossible to imagine any publisher in America publishing that photo in the 40s, even within the covers of the book.

As a sidenote, it's odd how such a strikingly beautiful woman (http://tinyurl.com/2upgt9z) could so completely and utterly lose that beauty in her later years (http://tinyurl.com/3xltfuv). Don't drink, kids. At least not two liters of gin per day.

JRSM said...

That topless Highsmith photo was used on the spine of the 'Beautiful Shadow' biography in the UK, at least on the paperback, so it looks quite striking on the shelf!

Craig D. said...

Gah. I just noticed that you posted the nude Highsmith photo in your "Highsmiths" article and explained where it was used -- an article that I read and commented on in February. Is my memory really getting that bad?

It would be the UK, wouldn't it? They seem pretty unshy about putting topless women on their books, not just on the spines but on the covers, like their version of the recent James Bond novel Devil May Care.

http://tinyurl.com/2f76z89

God forbid you'd see that in America, where Janet Jackson exposing a nipple on live TV caused perhaps the most ridiculous "scandal" I've ever seen.

JRSM said...

It is weird: my dad writes science books for children, and there was one about how X-rays work. The Australian/UK edition had a picture of a small boy having an X-ray taken, and he was wearing no shirt. For the US edition he had to have a singlet drawn over him, so that there would be no nipples. Very, very peculiar.

Craig D. said...

That's nuts. It's funny how the bare bodies that seem to offend people the most (at least in America) are those of grown women and young boys. It kind of says a lot about the people who are offended by it, no? Especially in a culture that seems to encourage underage female pop stars who dance around on-stage in little more than underwear. Most of the stores in my area that carry Nirvana's Nevermind album (not just the more conservative ones like Wal-Mart, but also stores like Best Buy) always put a sticker on the cover to obscure the infant baby's penis. But at least that's an actual sex organ -- knowing that someone raised the issue and asked for the boy's torso to be obscured on the cover you described makes me lightheaded.

I have a bizarre fascination with a specific kind of censorship: the drawing of underwear or other types of clothing onto previously bare bodies. It's probably because of the reasoning behind it; censoring something by outright removing it, while still offensive to every atom in my body, is more understandable than someone saying, "We're okay with all the other adult content, just please remove the nipples." The movie Showgirls is a great example of this; the television version features CGI bras and panties grafted onto the bodies of the female actors. You know, in case children are watching.

There was also a minor controversy when Marvel Comics decided to censor some reprints of their classic Tomb of Dracula comics, by covering up breasts with bras or robes or other objects. Here's a great blog entry all about it, where you can see the absurdity yourself:

http://tinyurl.com/kzkja

As you can see, it's okay for children to see Dracula grabbing a woman by the neck, puncturing it with his thumbnail and drawing blood (presumably killing her), while loudly calling her a slut -- but thank God those dreaded nipple is gone. (Even though the other one, poking through her gown, is unchanged.)

Nick Alimonos said...

This male author (me) is a naturist who has appeared nude numerous times on Blogger and Tumblr. Since I write fantasy, you won't be seeing me on any covers, although I doubt my book sales would increase much if I were to shed my clothing for the camera. People are simply more accepting of female nudity, whereas male nudity is usually off-putting. Honestly, if I were a female author and I looked good I would do it. My only gripe is when publishers use nudity, even words "nude" and "naked", to push products that have no relevance to nudity. At least the protagonists in "Ages of Aenya" are naturists and so it makes sense.

Allyn J said...

I think it's generally known by those who know such things that many 'straight' women appreciate a woman's nude body while most 'straight' men feel discomfort at viewing a male's nude body.