Thursday, March 09, 2006

Now you’ll know why the sisters call me the prude of the family

I love women.

No, not in that way sillies.

I mean, I “get” women. I have two sons in there mid twenties and even though I’ve raised them since they were little pups, I still don’t understand men.
But women I understand. I think we are a fascinating, rich, diverse and an all round great gender. But, there are a few things that I don’t understand about some women. And one of the big ones is the overreaction to the half naked or naked male of the species. A few years ago a group of coworkers went to see a Chippendale show that was playing at a local club. The tickets were free as the club was a client of the company. I could have gone too, but I wasn’t all the interested; to be honest I saw male strippers years ago and I ended up leaving early and have never been tempted to go again. Plus I know it would have bothered Ron a great deal so I passed on the opportunity. If others want to go – fine – doesn’t bother me at all – it’s just not my cuppa. But the next day, many of my coworkers were almost embarrassed at being women when they saw the outrageous and – calling a spade a spade – crude way many of the women in the audience reacted. One of the coworkers had seen a Chippendale show many years ago and quite enjoyed it. But she was telling us the one she had seen the previous evening was entirely different than the one she’d seen before. There was very little talented dancing at the one she just saw and mostly the good looking “dancers” were rubbing themselves up against the members of the audience – in fact if a woman paid an extra $10 she could sit on stage and one of the dancers would do a lap dance. Apparently the line-up was very very long. And many of the women were grabbing at the men when it was their turn. When I heard this, I was real glad I didn’t go.
There is one message board I visit sometimes where a couple of the regular posters will post Friday eye candy. Now I don’t see anything wrong with that, I check it out myself. I’m a fan of eye candy – even a big fan of eye candy. That’s part of the appeal of Sawyer. But where I get slightly uncomfortable is some of the salacious comments other posters make.
So what is the point of this preamble?
I don’t like Avon covers. Everyone knows that by now. I despise them – hate them with a passion! There! I said it. And I must admit it felt rather good. There are other publishers that have bad covers too, but Avon is the worst offender IMO. There is an interesting thread going on at the Potpourri board at AAR. I posted my somewhat tongue in cheek theory and an anonymous author posted (not in direct response to me) that the reason Avon has those nasty covers is they sell better. (She says) covers with a half-naked over-ripped unbelievable with the infamous man-titties men and a nubile young things with their dresses half off will sell better than a tasteful cover where either the couple are decently covered or the cover has a leg or an arm or something else?
Smart Bitches post weekly snarks on these types of covers. Visitors, including me, laugh at them. The covers are ridiculous.
But do they really sell better? I don’t have the sales figures but if it’s true, the thought appals me. Just as much as the thought of women grabbing at male strippers bothers me.

So – I may be considered a prude – but then that’s me. My sisters have been calling me that for years - although neither one of them have read romantica :)

And yes, yes in case you’re wondering, I have bought them myself. I do own Lord of the Storm and Sky Pirate – two of the very worst offenders of the bunch! But the romance genre has come a long way since then. Isn’t it time covers caught up?
I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it - as long as Avon gets away with putting the trash on the covers/backs/backstep covers of the books they publish, the genre will never get the respect that it deserves.

‘til later


ReneeW said...

Oh, Kristie, I sooo agree with you. I was just rereading that article by Candice Proctor about how romances 'don't get no respect'. Those covers you are talking about are a major cause of the lack of respect. I absolutely don't believe that they sell better. No, no, no. I say prove it to me to those people. Gimme some statistics.

If authors and readers want romances to get more respect, then those bodice ripper covers must go the way of the dinosaur. Who wants to buy a book and have to hide the cover? I never see women reading books with *those* covers in public.

And you are not a prude. I went to one of those male strip clubs once with some coworkers and I cringed. Just too tacky.

Samantha said...

I'm more likely to avoid buying man titty covers. Usually when I see those covers I tend to think it's a dime store romance that has a lot of throbbing and heaving going on.

sybil said...

You are going to drive me to drink... I swear. Company in business to make profit.

Neither of your books hit the 150 USA Today list so I couldn't place them. But I swear I am so close to calling Avon and making an ass out of myself to try and get you numbers.

Kristie (J) said...

LOL Sybil - but admit it - while you have that bottle of Kristie induced rot gut in your hand you'll be laughing. And I know I have this bee up my butt on this one but it appears I Am Not Alone :)
Many of my people agree with me!

Renee: I've been spending a lot of time reading in hospitals lately and it irks me no end that before I put that book in my purse, I have to check the cover first to see if I want to be seen reading it in public.

Samantha: I'm the same. There are books I've passed on strictly because of the covers.

Tara Marie said...

I prefer artsy covers, but a clinch cover wont keep me from buying a book I really want, though it might keep me from buying a new to me author.

I don't buy that the man titty covers sell better, I think publishers should be pushed to prove it.

Nora Roberts has something like 7 of the top 15 books on USA Today's paperback bestsellers list and none of her covers are clinch. If you think about the authors that are romance writers but also appeal to mainstream (non romance) readers--NONE have clinch covers--NR, Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krentz, Debbie Macomber, Dorothy Garlock, the list goes on and on.

But, I think you hit on something when you talked about women who are more salacious in comments and behavior are more likely to like the old bodice ripper style of cover. And, they have no problem voicing their opinions, though I do believe we are truly the silent majority.

Not that long ago there was an author who posted something on RTB about having clinch cover and she was thrilled with it--if there are authors out there that prefer them, it's not going to change.

ag said...

Well said, Kristie! You're not prude, you're a reader with class and good taste.

And I heartily agree with every point all you other ladies made.

I avoid those covers showing half undressed couples like the plague. They devalue the author's work IMHO.

On one hand, publishers need to move ahead and consider the needs of modern romance readers. But the cycle won't stop unless readers stop buying books with such covers.

Bev (BB) said...

Then how do the rest of you feel about the new wave of basically naked couples even though the covers only show parts of the whole picture?

Basically, I guess I fall into the camp that would rather have couples on the covers than not because it's one sure way to identify the books as romances. Yes, I prefer to have them tastefully and appropriately dressed for the story. Even though I DO enjoy landscapes and such, they also get boring and, more important, ambiguous.

That said, I'm still undecided about the new "naked" covers. On the one hand, some of them are very pretty but aren't they also the ultimate clinch cover and way past anything that's gone before? Why isn't anyone objecting to them?

Now if the argument is that they actually are a way to identify erotic romances from less sexually intense ones, I might be able to buy it. Thing is, doesn't saying those are acceptable for erotic romances distance them from regular romances rather than include them? Which is probably a whole other argument, but I have to wonder just how much of one.

Seems to me that a clinch is a clinch and we can't have it both ways. Just because one type of clinch may be more "artistic" doesn't change that. In fact, it may only make things worse in the long run by emphasizing exactly what people say they don't want - romance to be seen as all about sex.

Wendy said...

I hate man-titty covers - but I still buy them. Why? Because I want to read the story. Why punish the author because the art department sucks monkey balls?

I think readers are barking up the wrong tree here. Don't punish the author, who typically has no say in the cover - write or call the publisher and tell them you hate man-titty.

Also, keep in mind that the online romance community is small. Not every reader who enjoys romance participates in e-mail loops, message boards, blogs etc. I suspect this is the "silent" audience that still buys all those secret baby books Harlequin churns out and enjoys the man-titty *G*

Megan Frampton said...


I agree with you, and prefer a more tasteful cover myself, but a best-selling author with whom I'm friendly told me her latest book got a 40% increase in its pre-orders from Wal-Mart because of its much more titillating cover. 40%! That is not a small number, her print run is already huge. Of course the hypocrisy that is Wal-Mart is another story--but it is true that those covers sell much, much better than the plainer covers.

sybil said...

I would love to know the sell number vs the return.

The buyer for walmart - who does this and how do I get this job. They are getting better here... But I can say the new MM of Night of Sin by Julia Ross isn't moving at all, where as they have reordered the Lord Next Door at least three times.

Yes it is sad I notice this things.

Suisan said...

Well, to figure out if the clinch covers truly increase sales, wouldn't you have to simultaneously release two covers, one clinch, one non-clinch, and then compare the sales?

I buy both, clinch and non-clinch. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have a half-naked man and a booby-brained-falling-off-her-knees-falling-out-of-her-dress heroine on the cover of my book. But really? It doesn't bother me so much that I'll pass on a book which looks interesting.

And I don't expect that the roamnce genre is going to be "getting their props" anytime soon. It would be nice, yeah. But I can't see it happening anytime soon. Not while Nicholas Sparks is getting good reviews.

Kristie (J) said...

Beverly; I'm not exactly sure which ones you mean. If you mean the covers like Lover Eternal for example, I find them quite appealing. They are very sensuous yet subtle and much more 'art' like and I don't see that as a problem. If you mean more explicit covers - I haven't seen them in the stores here. It's the in your face "I'm a dog and you're a ho" style that infuriate me. And that's what "those" covers say to me. There is a difference between artistic and trashy.

Wendy; It's absolutely not the authors I find the fault with. If it's an author I've already read and enjoyed, I'll still buy it - with gritted teeth - I'll buy it. But if I see two authors I've never tried before say Diane Gaston and Margo McGuire (I know, I used this example already - but it's a good one) I'm going to go with Diane Gaston every time - in fact I did! I probably spend more money than many on books but I still have a budget (unless I play poker again and win) so I'll spend it on books that appeal to me.

And Megan - Aha! see - it's Walmart doing the buying - not the readers.

Overall I think covers have vastly improved over the years - with a few exceptions. Look at the Harlequin Historical covers and how much better they have gotten. Zebra often has very nice covers. I just wish ---- would get with the program.

CindyS said...

There is only one clinch cover I ever loved and it is from 17 years ago. It was for Katherine Sutcliffe and I remember thinking it was sexy. I'll have to see if I can dig up a picture of the old cover.

I'm actually over worrying about covers although you are right. I do double check covers of books before heading out in public with them. I mean, the ambulance is coming and I'm checking the cover of my book to make sure it's not screaming romance!!!

Now, that I've admitted this I'm off that list of yours, right? ;)


Kristie (J) said...

Cindy would that by any chance be Dream Feaver? I loved that book! And yea - I didn't mind the cover too much. I think it was in a step back though wasn't it - if that's the one you mean.

Bev (BB) said...

"There is a difference between artistic and trashy."

Yes, this is probably right. I mean I'd probably be a heck of a lot MORE inclined to use a padded cover on one of the artistic "naked" ones than on the simple clinches . . .

So, tell me, how is this an improvement?

Kristie (J) said...

Beverly: *chuckle* you proved I'm not the prude I have been accused of by certain members of my family 'cause I don't think I would cover those kind up.