Okay, so it’s come up on this blog a few times, but my degree is in design. To be more specific, cover design. More specific still, typography. So I’m a bit of a type geek.

And to be honest, I’ve always gravitated more toward the aesthetic of adult literary covers because of their use of typography. Much as I love the content of YA, cover-wise it hasn’t been one for playing with type (I am making generalizations here, and of course there are exceptions).

And I get it.

I get that it has to appeal to teens (not JUST teens) and the best way to do that is a photographic cover (especially one with a dead girl in a dress, apparently). The vast majority of YA covers, even the GORGEOUS ones, don’t play with type. They pick a nice, solid font, and place it front and center. Sometimes they add swirls, or a bit of filigree…:

…but it’s fairly safe. Lovely, but static. I picked three covers for popular upcoming titles, but the MAJORITY of books out there–fantasy and realism alike, though I’ve noticed there’s MORE willingness to play in realism–will fit the mold. The key is, there’s little to no interaction between the type and the image (have you seen Zombieland? That’s an AMAZING example of the type interacting with the environment). And that’s okay, it’s a balancing act. The type is there to be lovely without overshadowing the image. And I like them.

But I LOVE typographically active covers. Which is why I’m SO, SO, SO happy to see a handful of YA covers going in that direction!!!

I don’t know what’s guiding this. I suspect it’s publishers wanting to generate more crossover appeal, though I suppose it could be a genuine interest in exploring typographic potential, but whatever it is, I LOVE IT.

So this is my plea to cover designers, publishers, and the people who make the big decisions: be daring! I’m not saying to get rid of the dead girls/girls in dresses, I’m just saying I’d LOVE to see this kind of thing continue!!

ETA: Megan Crewe showed me THIS LINK to an awesome list on GR!


  1. Heather Ponzer says:

    Covers are so important. My biggest pet peeve is using real people on covers. I hate, hate, hate it.

    • veschwab says:

      Do you mean photographs as opposed to illustrations, or recognizable people? Alas, covers are INCREDIBLY important, and authors have little to no say in them. Nature of the game. And I do think a photographic cover with static type can still be lovely and successful, there’s just a special place in my heart reserved for typographically active ones 🙂

      • Heather Ponzer says:

        I mean close-ups using real people or even too realistic drawings too. It just feels like someone’s infringing on my creative rights as a reader. (Cause they’re my characters, obviously)

        Those covers are very cool. I can’t believe authors have so little say! That is insane to me.

  2. Katie says:

    That Cover Girl has a special place in her heart for Sad Girls in Pretty Dresses; ie, they’re awful and overused. I’m a big fan of typography based covers, especially ones that are done extremely well.

  3. Lori says:

    I like typography covers! The original Delirum cover was so great. Now I don’t like the new one as much. =\ I think it would be great to see more of this in YA. Typography really leaves more to the imagination but it’s still eye catching (like The Way We Fall <3).

  4. Tracking YA cover design trends is amusing. “Pink is the new purple.” “We just did an entire display of covers with a single giant eye staring out at the viewer.” &c.

    Many librarians are typography geeks, too. 😀

  5. Jade says:

    It’s not a recent cover, but the Australian version of Liar by Justine Larbalestier has always been one of my absolute favourites.

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