Saturday, December 29, 2007

Covers – Are they going too far??

Now that Katiebabs and I are partners, I thought one of the things we could do that would be interesting and fun is offering more than just one opinion on the Romance Industry.

Kristie's Thoughts

I consider myself a fairly normal romance reader. Now a normal romance reader is a different kettle of fish than a normal reader. We have a tendency to go a bit overboard compared to regular readers – at least some of us do.
So – as a normal romance reader – of the older generation, I have to say that some of the covers these days are starting to make me uncomfortable. I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I hate those clinch covers. Back in their day, when romance first gaining popularity they were acceptable I suppose, but as the genre has grown, I’ve long felt it was time to move past those old half naked poses. For the most part, with the exception of one publisher in particular (see Kate’s last post) the covers are miles better than they used to be. But in the last little while I’ve noticed a new trend that makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s a product of my age – I don’t like to think that’s it, or a product of my rather strict upbringing – we weren’t *gasp* allowed to read comic books, but some of the covers are too much for me.

And I can’t help wondering – if they are too much for me (whom I consider somewhat normal) are they too much for other readers?
It’s not that I won’t necessarily buy the books if they sound appealing, but I won’t buy them in the store. Instead I would order them online. Just to be clear, I’m talking mainstream books, not some of those ebooks with over-the-top covers you can get at EC and the like – some of those are just laughable in their badness.
And if we go with the theory that I’m a normal romance reader, wouldn’t it follow that others are like me too? That they might see these books in the store and pass them by due to the graphic covers?
Don’t get me wrong – I like looking at a nice looking naked male chest as much as the next reader. I mean I really love one. Kate, Sula and I even named a pic of our favourite actor of the moment, Chest. And the shallow me has been known to buy a book based on that fact. As much as the good reviews have convinced me to get Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady, the cover also plays a factor *g*. But some of these covers go too far for me to be comfortable with.

There are a couple of types that I think go overboard - the almost naked guy/girl - and I don't mean half naked - I mean just a wee slip and totally naked is the one type that makes me kind of squirm.

Then there is the couple - or more than two, that I know I'd never take to the checkout with. I'm seeing Megan Hart's newest book all over the place and it's not that I wouldn't necessarily read it - I have Broken in the TBR pile - but I do think the cover is too much.

And how many of those readers would actually go to the trouble of ordering online? I think the percentage is growing. I know since I discovered the ease of it, I do a lot more. But I think that book stores and/or authors depend quite a bit on spur of the moment buying. I don’t know if that many romance readers do a lot of research like those of us with an online presence.

One can argue that these are erotic romance books and in many cases aren’t shelved with the regular romance books. But I’ve been daring – I have looked at the erotica section of the book store and there are a lot of them that aren’t nearly as explicit as these examples above. I have bought a few erotic romance books even - these ones for example are in my TBR pile

And also keep in mind – this in no way is any kind of condemnation of the authors themselves. I’m talking strictly covers. So I’m left wondering – am I normal when it comes to the almost extremely explicit covers or am I showing my age?
I'm looking forward to Katie's thoughts as she is a year or two *chuckle* younger.

Katie's Thoughts

When I started reading romance novels, they all tended to show the man and woman in a passionate clench with the woman's bosum falling out of her dress along the man's rippling chest without a shirt for all to see. Personally, not much has changed in twenty years of my reading. You still see those same covers with the two love birds practically getting naked in a field of flowers, near a lake or in the snow.

The snow cover that I am talking about and makes me chuckle is Melody Thomas's Sin and Scandal in England. It is a very cliche cover. And I kept thinking of course their nipples would be hard because of the frost in the air. I even sent an email to Melody about it and we had a really good laugh about her cover. *G* So authors probably feel the same way as we the reader do.

But one publisher who has some of the most outlandish and very naked covers happens to be Kensington's Aphrodisia line. The main reason I wanted to read and review Lord of the Deep (better known as the tree sex book) was because of the nice hard butt on the cover. And the funny thing is, that cover is perfect for the book. And when I was reading it, I seriously would hide the cover because I was afraid people would glance over and see it and make that assumption about who I am because of what I am reading.
Lately I have been reading more and more erotica books with some interesting covers on it. These covers make me blush, but I must say I am a fan of the "chest"ones or aka the man-titty covers as they are being labeled lately by the fans

The other day I went into Borders and was so surprised to see in the romance section the amount of these hard-core sexed up covers, and right near the cafe. Why not enjoy your coffee and some tit and ass to go with it? To be honest, even if romance covers continue to show less and less clothes I will still buy and read. I try not to choose a book by its cover and anyone who has an opinion about me because of some butt or nipple showing, then they need to get a clue because right after I finished my latest erotica I opened up North and South and that only has a lovely field with a tree on it.

Now let me ask you, which cover is classier? Which would you choose to pick up in your local bookstore and read out in the open?


lisabea said...

You know, the reason I didn't buy Caine's Reckoning the first time was because I didn't want my kids to see the book cover. (my youngest is 11). Then I read a review and the rest, as we know, is history.

The real point is that these covers sell. To whom? I wonder, since we all bitch and moan about oldest is reading Slave to Sensation and she is humiliated by the cover. But the fact is, these covers make money.

OMG I won two books over at Sybil's and those covers are just shocking ! "Sin Club" and "Private Party". They don't even look like romances. The books are in my bill drawer. Can't wait for the old man to pull those out next week with the electric, phone and credit card bills. heh.

Kristie (J) said...

Lisabea: *g*I didn't mind the cover of Caine's Reckoning. While slightly red-faced if the cashier was a young guy, it wouldn't stop me from buying it at a brick & mortar store. The same with the majority of romance with chest covers. I think they DO sell - they sell to ME. But I mean the really, REALLY explicit ones such as the upcoming Raine, where only a hand and wrist is covering him from total nudity or Sexy Devil where only an inch more........
That's what I'm wondering - if there are that many average romance readers who have no qualms about taking that explicit a book to the checkout. I'm not saying it's wrong - but it would make me very uncomfortable - so much so I wouldn't do it. I'd order online. But I don't know the demographics of how many buy online as opposed to buying in stores.
And - I don't have the kids at home to worry about finding them - although come to think of it, it might be rather amusing to leave some like that out and around the next time Ryan comes over *g*.

Stacy~ said...

Well, I have purchased books like this at the store, in fact I just bought Megan Hart's "Tempted" last night, and the cashier was a young man - I also had "Spymaster's Lady" (love my Nathan) and the DVD "North and South" to temper the blatant MH cover. I just took a deep breath and kept telling myself I have that BBC DVD so who cares about the cover.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed, mostly because I feel these covers give romances the smutty rep we all hate, other times I don't really care. Some of them are tasteful and sexy, other times I find them too explicit, but then I know I'm getting a more erotic storyline.

Sometimes I just decide it's a battle that will never be won, and that I'm going to read my books and to hell with the rest. Bottom line, whether I like the ocvers or not, I buy them, either in the store or online, and as long as I'm spending my dollars on them, the publishers aren't going to care whether I like the covers or not as long as they get their money.

Stacy~ said...

Should be - whether I like the "covers" or not. Yikes.

Sherry Thomas said...

The mantitties are too much for me--and I'm neither of an older generation nor raised very strictly. I almost miss the clinch covers, so extreme have the mantitties become.

Chantal said...

I have no problem with any of those covers, and I have no trouble buying them in real life either.
*Shrug* it's not much of an issue to me.

Jace said...

Woo hoo...what a veritable feast for the eyes! LOL

Call me a prude, but I've never liked risque covers. The almost-naked men are bad enough; the almost-naked couples are like porn.

I'd never read these books in public. Come to think of it, I'm not even comfortable reading in public a book that has a cover of a "half-dressed" couple entwined.

And no, I'm not of the older generation either. LOL

sula said...

I think the most explicit cover I ever bought in a bricks and mortar store was Bound by Sasha White. It was on sale and I couldn't resist the price. I did feel kinda adventurous going up to the register with it tho.

Devon said...

The buying of them wouldn't bother me, but I'd keep 'em flat on the lap while reading in public. Man that Raine one is hot, but it is a bit much. I'll have to invest in one of those book covers like my mom had soon.

Lone Chatelaine said...

I love the covers. I'm still partial to the bodice rippers with the dress half falling off, and the early naked man holding his woman in a passionate embrace, but then I like the solitary nude male too.

I'm 40, I don't know if that makes me an older romance reader or not. But I've only been reading romance as of just this past summer. Read a few random ones over the years, but this year I really became a fan.

Regardless, I love the covers. It'll make me buy a book even when I've not read a thing about it before.

Joanna Chambers said...

I want tasteful covers. Not clinches. Not mantitty. Genre clues are fine but keep it tasteful. Here, for example, is a cover of a very hot erotica book that I think has a good cover.

Anonymous said...

I used to really dislike seeing Page 3 topless models on display in public places.
I've therefore some sort of complicated reaction that says that if I don't want men to be allowed to pin up pictures that objectify women as sex objects - and I don't - I can't then think it's great to have public displays of pictures that objectify men as sex objects.

They're small pictures, so it's hard to see, but I think I'd be less embarrassed by Megan Hart's cover - which looks beautiful, than the Joanna Bourne's cover, which seems tacky.

The Sexy Devil and Sexy Beast covers just strike me as funny, which probably isn't what the artists were shooting for.

(And I've fallen out of love with Richard Armitage. Guy was unforgivably nasty in Robin Hood last night. Bad, bad man.)

Marianne McA

Kristie (J) said...

Marianne McA: That's anothe good point I was thinking of too, that I forgot to mention. Would we, as women, be offended if they had that much skin showing of women on books aimed towards men? If so, it is a bit of a double standard to then think it's ok for it to be men aimed at women. Though, of course, I do love a good naked chest!

And come back here!!!!!!! What do you mean Guy did an unforgivably nasty thing last night?? You can't just say that and then leave us on tenterhooks - specially me who has no sound on her computer to watch on Youtube! Wasn't it the Season Finale last night??
What did Guy do? Come back! We need to know what he did that was so nasty!
And - we must separate the actor from the role you know. Guy is bad - but RICHard is good. What you need is a good solid watching of N&S to see the good and cleanse out the bad.

Anne said...

Yes, I believe they are going WAY too far and honestly, I won't buy books with covers like that because I certainly won't read them in public places and I'd be embarrassed to pick one up in the bookstore. They only way I'd even consider buying one would be online. Sad, isn't it? There could be great stories within those pages, but because of the raunchy packaging I'll never know.

Anonymous said...

Kristie - I wasn't explicit because it's a huge, huge spoiler and if anyone is watching the series, they really don't want to know beforehand.
So, final warning, it's a huge, huge, huge spoiler for Series Two, and it only happens at the very end of the final episode. Don't read on if you're watching it.







Guy kills Marian.

How could someone who looks so angelic in his white shirt be so dastardedly? Hasn't he read the story? Doesn't he know that that doesn't happen?
(They repeated the Vicar of Dibley episode later that evening, so I've forgiven him a bit - just not entirely.)

Marianne McA

KT Grant said...

I need a moment of silence for this horrible thing that Guy has done
SO now he can have a woman who really loves him and not that wench.

Christine said...

I actually think the cover to Megan Hart's Tempted is beautiful and sensual. And although it is explicit, I still think it's classy and not the least bit corny or fake. I would honestly be more embarrassed seen buying or reading a book with a cheesy, phony looking cover, than an extremely sensual one.

On that note, though, I also find the covers that just parade male nakedness to be a bit offensive. I totally admire a gorgeous man, but I don't appreciate it being used as bait either. I would much rather see an engaging couple on the cover than a bare man. The picture of the couple says this is a story of a couple who are meant to be together. The picture of a half or fully naked guy just says naked guy.... no message about a love story whatsoever.

KT Grant said...

I am very surprised there are more naked men covers than women. *G*
I am not going to lie, me likey alot, especially the dover for Raine. Oh my oh my.

Kristie (J) said...

To Marianne McA: After absorbing the shock of it all - this is what I said on The Army board - yes *laughing* I joined The Army how could I not??? although it breaks me up that I did. I don't normally do things like that - but for a certain actor - I tend to go a wee bit overboard.

**spoiler for anyone who watches RH**

We don't get Season II here in the 'other' London. In fact we don't get Season I either but I bought it on DVD. But I have been following along somewhat on YouTube - until my speakers conked out and I have no sound.
My thoughts though as a non-regular watcher.
When I heard how it ended I was as shocked as everyone else - but when the dust settled I realized something. From what I've observed, Marian has really been playing Guy all along. Pretending to care for him - then rejecting him, all the while dancing the dance with Robin.
I don't think it's any secret that Guy is half bonkers. If Marian had any kind of real caring in her, she should have realized that she held the key to Guy's heart and the key to his redemption. But instead of giving him a chance, she shoved the key in his back and then twisted it - very cruelly. I'm not surprised that Guy acted as he did in a momentary fit of rage and rejection - he is half bonkers and totally mad for her. And in an honest sense - she kind of, sort of, almost kind of brought it on herself.
But sadly - I think he has lost any hope of redemption now. He's totally gone over to the Dark Side. I think Season III will be fascinating - though *sob* it will take forever for me to get to see it.

Kristie (J) said...

Now back to the topic at hand *g*

Stacy: I'm torn in too also when it comes to some of the books with explicit covers. I'll still buy them - but some on-line. Unless of course it's Krisite who is buying them. She doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks.

Ah Sherry: Thank you!! I was kind of worried it was an off-shoot of getting to be a certain age - and that worried me more than actually getting older! It's comforting knowing I'm not the only one who thinks they've gone a bit too far

Chantal: *chuckle* I admire your attitude. I wish I could be more like you when I grow up.

Jace: I don't think it's that we are prudes really - I mean we read them - we just don't want the covers to be so..... blatant I guess. And again - you give me comfort that it's not an old age thing :)

Sula: *wink* that cover of bound is pretty out there too isn't it. You have more courage than I do Charlie Brown.

Devon: I'm ashamed to admit this - but I keep a lot of my books 'flat on my lap' I'm still have in the closet as far as my romance reading goes - and not happy to say that - but I am getting better at letting friends and coworkers know. I told everyone about my adventures in Dallas and what it was all about.

Lone Chatelaine: LOL - compared to me, you are younger - although I am young at heart I like to think. And how are you enjoying the romance genre? As one who has adored it going on for close to fifteen years now - romance makes me so happy. Going in, you know that everything will end happily, that you will close the book with a good feeling inside - until faced with the horrors that the real world can provide.

Tumperkin: I clicked on your link - that is a nice cover and they can be tasteful. I think the perfect thing to do is step covers. I wish all books had them. Then we have the not so 'in your face' almost nekkid ones for those of us who prefer them and then more salacious ones on the inside - for those who like them (and those of us who do like them - but more hidden *wink*)

Anne: that's why blogs and review sites are so very very helpful! 'Cause we get to hear about some of the books with good stuff on the inside that we might miss because of the outside packaging. And we can still order them online.

Christine: I like what you say!! It does make a difference doesn't it? Although for me - the cover of Tempted - beautiful as it is - is too much to buy at a B&M.

Katie: But *laughing* would you take the book Raine up to the register and purchase it if the cashier was either a handsome young fellow or a crotchety looking old biddy?

Anonymous said...

Are they going too far?

What do we mean by too far? Too sexy? Too naked or explicit? I daresay that once we open the cover we're gonna want the sexy and the naked somewhere along the way...

Can we compare covers to foreplay? Oh let's! The nigh-nekkid, man-titty-o-rama covers are just flinging the man meat right out there, getting right to the point. With more than a few of these covers Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" starts to cue up in the background and I picture some dim male model with a daisy razor going after those last stubborn chest hairs whilst bellowing for more baby oil and/or self tanner. And it's so NOT SEXAY!

Personally, I like a little more foreplay in/on/up against my covers...just a hint of the romance and YES hot hot sex that is to come.

Eye candy is nice, but woo me a little before whipping out your woo-woo, please.

(Why don't they have a full-color insert in the middle of the book? Or in the back with the ads?
Of course it's likely inevitable that soon we'll be able to select our own covers so point = moot.)

Teddy Pig said...

How deep is your lord
How deep is your lord
I really need to learn
Cause we're living in a world of tides
Washing us down
When they all should let us sea
We belong to you and me

Jodi_Lee said...

I have never been a huge fan of any of the covers, except Lynn viehl Darkyn series, those are great covers, in my opinion!

I do believe they are taking it too far with many of these covers! If you want to dumb down and play into the stereotype of romance novels and their readers, then put a ridiculous cover on it like "Spankable Asses" or whatever it was called. Please, is this really what we have evolved to???

KT Grant said...

Jodi-lee: I am so tempted to pick up Spankable ass just to see if there are quality stories in there. Imagine if you are part of this anthology and your agent calls and tells you the title of the book! LMAO