Judging a book by its (pink) cover

Why are publishers slapping chick-lit-style covers on books written by women, whether they fit the genre or not?

Published July 30, 2008 9:05PM (EDT)

Pink is the color of most patient rooms in mental hospitals because it's soothing. It's also the color of many covers of books written by women. Actually, it's the color of so many books by women that it may have the reverse effect: All these pink covers could drive you crazy.

OK, so not all books written by females have pink covers. Some feature images of happy women or pretty beaches. And if it isn't people or the places they inhabit, it's the designer clothes and shoes they wear. Diane Shipley at the Guardian analyzes this increasingly agonizing publishing trend, attributing the offensive homogenization of covers of books by women to a (gasp!) marketing ploy: "Having cottoned on to the fact that chick lit books sell like cupcakes, publishers are now adding chick lit-style covers to any book written by a woman whether it fits the genre definition or not."

Shipley spoke to a few female writers, one of whom claimed she fought with her publisher over the misleadingly chick-litty aesthetics of her cover -- and lost. Sure, chick lit is a valid form of fiction, but just because a book was written by a woman doesn't mean it's chick lit. Shipley also points out that even books written by men are being marketed as chick lit simply because they have female protagonists. We're always told not to judge a book by its cover, but that can be hard to do when that's the first thing we see. As long as publishers continue to wrap books by or about women in these generic images, we're the ones who will have to suspend our judgments until we look inside.

By Logan Scherer

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