I stopped at a Barnes & Noble recently, and as always, ended up perusing the YA section. Here's what I found:
I wonder if you notice what I noticed. Check out that bottom row (if you can see it in my lousy picture): all books by male authors. See any faces? Me neither.
Not all books written by women have faces or body parts on their covers. But far fewer books by men feature faces or body parts on the front. Why? Wouldn't a pretty face sell a book written by a man as well as an obscure graphic?
Take a look at the first hardcover publication covers of John Green's books:
One in five has a face on it. An interesting note: The Paper Towns paperback edition swapped the girl's face for a pushpin and a map, while the Abundance of Katherines featured the top half of a girl's face instead of the row of colorful silhouettes.
Now let's look at a similar author, Maureen Johnson. Both of these authors' stories feature quirky characters, mysteries riddled with riddles, and even a road trip or two. Here are Johnson's recent covers (again, the first hardcover publications):
One in five does not have a face (or at least part of a face). Bodies and more bodies. Maureen's newest (below) at least has a man in addition to the woman.
Is there some scientific evidence that faces on covers sell more books? If that's so, wouldn't half a face on a cover sell half as many books? Maybe I suffer from a touch of coprophobia--an irrational fear of faces--and that's why I notice this so much. It's possible.
What do these covers say about authors and genders? If I had picked two different authors, would we see the same trends? One way to find out: stay tuned for another Face Off! next month, right here at JacketKnack.