Bookish Pet Peeves: Book Covers

Quirky'sReadsInstead of making this a Literary Listings post and just listing the things I don’t like, I want to actually discuss it here in greater detail and find out if anyone else has a few bookish pet peeves?

Book Cover Pet Peeves

Oh man, I am a seriously judgmental sort of person. I am the type of person to just look at a cover, not like it and completely pass it over. There is nothing that can get me to give it a chance, nothing except a great review by a friend. That being said, I’ve read crappy books because the cover looked good. I need to stop my judgmental ways but man, there are some cover-tropes that I just hate.

Ball Gowns: What the heck are they for?


I can’t stand book covers with ballgowns on the front. I seriously, seriously, can’t. Why is she in the gown? Is the book a modern day Cinderella? Does she have a curse put upon her that she must be tight laced into a painfully outdated goth-looking dress? Is the only way she won’t be eaten by monsters, is to be enshrined in giant red organza? If not, then why the heck is this trope such a popular one? I notice that it is especially popular within the YA genres and I find it to be a big turn off as I find that it lessens the quality of the text. Now, remember, this is my personal opinion. The sight of a ballgown makes me want to shudder, in real life or on the book-o-sphere. What I especially don’t like is the over-feminization of it all. I’m sure those satin-clad heroines are kick-ass but it is all just a bit… much. Plus! I read a ball-gown book once and the protagonist never wore a darn ballgown in the book, what the heck is the point then?!

Abs-Of-Steel: Come hither or run away?


At this point, as I type this I’m rolling around my bed going whhhhhhhhhy? I actually extend my dislike of this trope to the entire human species: I don’t see the point of a semi-naked man or woman on a book cover. I just don’t. To me, it screams that the book doesn’t have much content that all they could feature is a renegade looking tough guy. Even for urban novels or romances, there has to be more to add to the cover? Maybe?

Why does everyone have to make-out?


Again, these book cover pet peeves are all immensely personal and my own. I am not a huge fan of the romance genre, not withstanding, I can’t stand covers with couples making out in the front. Even in YA books, when I see a teenage couple kissing, even if it is an awkward peck, it is a turn off for me. To me, personally, these scream as to the lack of content that I’d find interesting. I don’t want to read about people making out so, why would I want to see it either? Plus, this is a bit nuanced I guess, but these types of covers really do suffer from a lack of diversity, which again, reflect their content. I have seen many covers with covers with people of cover embraced in a seemingly-torrid love scene, but those tend to reflect the “niche” element of the book (it being in the African-American genre for instance) which is fine, but I’d like to see a few mixed-race couples pop up a bit more or have more diverse casts. Again, the cover tends to reflect the content so there won’t be much more in the diversity scheme until people start actually writing more diversely.

So as it is, I won’t buy a cover if it has any semblance of a ballgown, washboard abs or PDA.

Do you have any book cover pet peeves?



About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
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25 Responses to Bookish Pet Peeves: Book Covers

  1. Pingback: Weekly Recap| Mar 1-7, 2015 | Oh, the Books!

  2. Grace says:

    The ones that show a girl’s neck/shoulders but not face (particularly popular in historical fiction).

    I agree on the ballgowns, and I feel like it would be a turn-off to male readers who might otherwise enjoy the story.

  3. Pingback: Sunday Post (March 1) | Girl of 1000 Wonders

  4. Bee says:

    Hey just stopped by again to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award! . Hope you’ll participate! Details are on my blog ❤ Bee

  5. bee188 says:

    I never really noticed ball gown covers before but im definitely going to notice them now. I definitely agree with you about the abs and making out. ❤ Bee @ Bee Reads Books

  6. Nicole says:

    I was so excited for you to post this one! It’s all SO TRUE! why do they do it!!?? :”’) hahah

  7. moosha23 says:

    Although I don’t mind ballgowns all that much I’ve got to say one big pet peeve that would do away with all the above pet peeves is actual people on book covers. I avoid covers with people on it – it’s the same concept as watching the movie before the book: imagining the character in my head serves better than having a good idea of what (who) they look like already.

  8. You’ve literally included everything. I really can’t stand the ball gown, which reminds me of Cinderella. But the other ones are are so annoying too.
    Really enjoyed this post!

  9. Hehe, for some reason I really do like those ball gown covers. Perhaps it’s my love for fairytales and Disney, where they wear gowns all the time :p Those make-out or ‘almost’ make-out covers, uugh. One of the reasons I’m not attracted to the New Adult books.

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      I loooove Fairy Tales and Disney and for some of the covers, like The Selection, I get it. Some good design goes in and so on but for some, especially when the protagonist has nothing to do with poofy dresses, why is it necessary :o!!!

  10. Tara says:

    Sooooo, admittedly I have a complex relationship with the ballgown covers. I will always say I hate them (for many of the reasons you listed above), but then I’m also weirdly drawn to them. Like, I read The Selection because of the cover and all the pretty-pretty (well, and because I like the synopsis — it does have to be interesting!) I did a Top Ten Tuesday a while ago that included four books with pretty dresses on the cover and I was surprised that I’d fallen for that marketing move. HOWEVER, abs and kissing will never be favorites of mine and I really don’t get the appeal.

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      Well we agree with 2 out of 3. Ballgown covers are pretty and before The Selection, I never noticed the plethora of dresses (maybe it was what started the trend?) but after POOF they were EVERYWHHHHHERE. And they all look so sad too!

  11. Tammy says:

    Ha ha, clearly you will never fall prey to marketing trends, which is what these are! But I agree with you. I don’t care for straight up romance, and when I see a cover with kissing obviously it’s going to be a romance and I stay far away.

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      Yeah, it’s arbitrary marketing and I just get cross with it. It’s such a “trend” type of thing. I never gave it any mind until there was an explosion in ball gown covers… why the heck is there a ball gown on the front? Am I supposed to get dress envy? Is she somehow stoic and beautiful? Reminiscent of a Disney chick in what looks like a french dessert poofy dress?

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