A chap called J F Lewis is guest-posting at Scalzi’s Whatever today. He claims he’s written a totally new take on the modern vampire novel, but looking at the cover art supplied (which isn’t merely cheesy as all hell but also looks like a bad eighties hair-metal album cover) reminds me why I instinctively recoil from the thought of going near this genre as a reader, new take or not.
This is why book marketing is such a fascinating subject. Yes, I’m aware that many readers would have a similar reaction to the covers of books (and albums) I love dearly. No, I’m not being elitist. This is just another example of why genre fiction is like rock music.
Looks like the good old cover art debate has reared its head again, with Rick Kleffel ranting passionately about the need to abandon ‘slabs with abs’ and ‘Fabio-alike’ cover art, especially in the fantasy genre, and the always lucid Andrew ‘SFBC’ Wheeler deflating the issue with the perspective of a man who works in publishing – those covers get used because those covers sell books.
You want my opinion on this issue? Well, I don’t really have one. Sure, I can appreciate a good piece of cover art, and I can see when one is cliched and out of kilter with the book’s content. But it’s what’s beneath the cover that really interests me, and if the fiction is good enough I don’t give a damn what’s on the front and back. I’ve never understood this idea that people are embarrassed to be seen reading certain books in public – I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that I can’t imagine it ever happening to me.
That having been said, I spent my teenage years as an RPG geek who read every spin-off novel he could get his hands on, so maybe I self-medicated against chainmail bras and leather nappies with aversion therapy early on. Then again, those who’ve seen what I look like are probably well aware that the last thing anyone sat opposite me on a train is going to notice about me is the book I’m reading at the time! 🙂