Friday, January 29, 2010

Cover Story

"You can't judge a book by a cover."

Currently in the blogosphere there has been an uproaring about covers and their importance. This is mostly due to the whitewashing of the following books, both published by Bloomsbury:

But as a blogging community, we have stood up to the injustice of covers not correctly portraying the character by changing the color of her skin. Making our voices heard has made a difference. The cover of Liar was changed before its publication to portray an African American model. Magic Under Glass, unfortunately, succeeded in slipping under our eyes and onto the shelf with its whitewashed cover. However, Bloomsbury has stated:

“The jacket design has caused offense and we apologize for our mistake. Copies of the book with a new jacket design will be available shortly.”

Do you, as a reader, think it is important for a book cover to correctly model the character? More than anything, the cover should at least have the right skin color. Should the hair color and eye color be the same, too? Should the model be overweight if the character is? Please leave comments with your thoughts.

The cover is not only a representation of the book, but is also an important publicity feature. I certainly know that I don't pick up books that have bland covers don't interest me. I know the saying... yet I do judge books by their covers. Covers should be eye-appealing and enticing... enough to make people pick them up, out of the hundreds of other books, off the shelf. But is that more important than accuracy? Are they both important? Food for thought...
Reading Rocks, following The Book Smuggler's lead, will now be doing a feature on our blog dedicated to discussing covers and their relations to the story they represent.

We will also be joining the Persons of Color Reading Challenge. We'll be making an effort to read and review books this year with characters and/or authors of color.

Lastly, a facebook fanpage has been created: The Readers Against Whitewashing. Very cool. Check it out and join!

We should all take steps to make our bookshelves more colorful. That so much is already being done to achieve this goal is amazing, so thank you to everyone who is taking part in it.


  1. Hummm...while as a reader and a Latina I don't like when the cover misrepresents the characters - I do understand the prospective of the publishers too. I'm pretty much on the fence on this subject.

  2. I think the cover should at least attempt to fairly represent the characters of a novel, especially something like skin color. Great post! :)

  3. I think they messed up with Liar because the author gave a CLEAR description about the model while in Magic Under Glass the author gave you the choice to decide what shade of brown you wished to give your character. I already had a post about this and while I really belief is good that this movement has grown so much I am afraid they will just take any cover that minisculy might not be perfectand slaughter it.

    Magic Under Glass is left to your own interpretation, and the girl in the cover is not WHITE but she has the color of skin I might say I have and I am latina- so yeah girl I have some color on me ;)

    Other than THAT specific cover I say great movement and keep it going.

  4. PS; Also the world of Magic Under Glass is completely new and left to your imagination. Her race is invented and not real in the way we would say Latin American or African American. So she might not specifically be that dark or that light, it's really left to your imagination.

    Don't wanna rain on anyone's parade here, it's just my opinion.

  5. Taschima -- I completely agree with you. When I first heard about the Magic Under Glass outrage, I was shocked. I had imagined her with lightish olive-toned skin, and I think the cover allowed for that. And while I think the M.U.G. thing was a bit ridiculous, I totally support all of the anti-whitewashing going on.

    -Shakespeare's Muse

  6. Taschima - I agree. I think the Liar cover was really messed up, but Magic Under Glass was not so obviously incorrect. Given that the places in the book weren't real, all we knew was that the main character had dark skinned compared to the people where she lived. I am white, and the girl on the MUG cover does have darker skin than me, so I didn't see the cover, read the book, and think OMG THE COVER IS WRONG AND RACIST. I think the people who care do have some good goals but I wonder if they will take it too far. I can think of another recent YA fantasy (I do not want to mention the title and cause a huge controversy) that a cover with a girl who MAY have been lighter skinned than the author intended, I'm waiting for people to notice that one, one of these days....

  7. I haven'ty read either books but I do agree strongly the models should portray their characters, if they don't, come up with a cover without a model on it.


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