Of course you can judge a book by its cover. That’s what covers are for!

11 May

I’ve come across this story a number of times and it’s induced nothing more than a giant eye-roll.  Jesus Christ, do you have nothing else to complain about?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/coverflip-maureen-johnson_n_3231935.html?1367956789#slide=2421899

Maureen Johnson put out a call for the covers on books written by men to be restyled as if women had written them.  She got entries like this:

game 1

game 2

orange 1

orange 2

road 1

road 2

You can see the whole slideshow in the link above.

Today in the Daily Mail, children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson added her voice to the conversation, calling for an end to sexist book covers which promote their novels as ‘girly’ in order to boost sales regardless of the plot.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2322875/Jacqueline-Wilson-Ditch-sexist-pink-book-covers-putting-boys-gritty-books-says-leading-authors.html

Hmmm.  Interesting.  If we start with the assumption that publishing is NOT a dastardly plot by the patriarchy to make certain women writers have sissified book covers that oppress them, but rather a BUSINESS that sells books to willing customers for PROFIT, then the only question we need to ask is DOES IT WORK?

If pansy-assed, fruity, swirly “ladies all be retards” covers DID NOT sell books, publishers wouldn’t use them! It’s really that simple.  The covers that grace books written by women are chosen because THOSE ARE THE COVERS THAT ATTRACT BUYERS.

It’s completely ridiculous to even contemplate the idea that publishers are deliberately excluding part of their market because SEXISM. If there was a good chance men would buy the books written by women, publishers would be all over it.  Money is money.

The reason book covers on books written by women are designed to attract women buyers is because….

Oh here’s the ugly truth….

Get ready to pout…..

Pouting-pretty-woman

Most books written by women suck! 

Women don’t care.  Men do.  As I have argued before, when women of extraordinary genius are born, the culture almost always makes room for them to rise to the top.

http://judgybitch.com/2013/04/01/%EF%BB%BFrocket-scientist-figures-out-that-a-womans-life-isnt-rocket-science-a-truly-brilliant-lady-worth-applauding/

That includes literary genius.  Of course there are women who write extraordinary books.  There are women who write even pretty good books.  But most women’s writing?  You can give that shit a pass and know you won’t have missed much.

Books written by women that are actually GOOD books will attract male readers.  Publishers know that.  And book covers will reflect that.

This lady is an outstanding writer who captures both male and female imaginations:

margaret

Here is the cover for Oryx and Crake.  A fabulous book, by the way.

oryx

The covers for Pulitzer Prize winning female authors:

shipping

plague

march

No girly bullshit here.  These are award-winning writers, which is not the same thing as best-selling authors.  What are the best-selling books amongst women?

Hey, check out this infographic:

source: http://www.hiptype.com/

I’ll draw you attention specifically to the popularity of genres by gender:

Men, in order of preference:  historical, literature, sci-fi, self-help, religion.

I’m guessing the self-help category includes business books.

self help

Women, in order of preference:  romance (by a wide margin), literature, adult (sluts love their porn!), cookbooks and self-help.

women self-help

Aaaaaaand here are the covers for the top three best-selling romance novels at Amazon.com:

rock

mine

word

The argument that women’s books are marketed with sexist cover art comes down to one genre:  romance.  And who buys romance novels?
reading

Women make up 91 percent of romance book buyers, and men make up 9 percent.

http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=582

The whole project Maureen started is just so fucking dumb:  WOMEN are the ones who demand the idiotic covers!  They are designed to appeal to women!  They are generally only found on stupid books written by WOMEN for other women.

Yes, you can judge a book by its cover.

This one is literature.  The cover is designed to appeal to both men and women.  And it does.

hunger

“I have packed myself into silence so deeply and for so long that I can never unpack myself using words. When I speak, I only pack myself a little differently.”

This one is a piece of shit and only women are gonna buy it.

betts

”…he could feel the dampness between her legs just from where they pressed together like Twinkies inside their cellophane wrapper”.

I for one, would like to THANK publishers for making it easy to avoid really crappy books.  If it’s written by a woman, chances are it sucks.  If it’s written by a woman and it has a cover like this, you KNOW IT SUCKS.

harriet

Book covers.  Consider them fair warnings.

Lots of love,

JB

54 Responses to “Of course you can judge a book by its cover. That’s what covers are for!”

  1. Z May 11, 2013 at 16:53 #

    Hmmm Well… I write erotica (I’m not a slut and the vast majority of my reading demographic is married women… so… probably not sluts either. Sluts are too busy BEING slutty to read erotica or anything else really.) I make a good living doing it. If that makes me stupid… then I confess. ;)

    • judgybitch May 11, 2013 at 16:56 #

      I was just poking fun at the pearl-clutching, anti-pornography crowd.

      I love erotica!

      Can you recommend some good ones?

      Feel free to promote your own, too!

      • Z May 11, 2013 at 17:18 #

        Well… here’s the thing… I have the Miss Anne Thrope blog in order to vent things that are pissing me the hell off without alienating readership for my books. If I start recommending other authors I get dangerously close to my personal circle and then me. And if it’s known that my author name and Miss Anne Thrope are the same then there was NO point in separating it at all. And then I alienate some of my readers. I don’t have to agree with the politics of my readers and they shouldn’t know mine because our relationship is about me writing books they want to read and it ends there.

        I wish we lived in a world where you could say whatever the hell you wanted and not have to deal with drama in your career, but we don’t, unfortunately. (It’s why people can get fired for crap they say on their facebook.)

      • Bobby May 11, 2013 at 17:35 #

        It’s hard to recommend without knowing your tastes, but here are over 75 different directories of free erotica. Some’s great, some’s not, but just by reading the description you can usually tell if it will be or not. They even categorize stories further down the page, such as just military stories, or just voyeurism stories, though the categories are limited. It’s usually better to just browse through the numbered directories.

        http://www.asstr.org/~Kristen/

        Also, here’s a story that I’ve been reading slowly over the past few years. I don’t know if you have any girl-on-girl fantasies or enjoy that kind of thing, but at least one reader on here probably does. There are also man-woman scenes too.

        http://www.asstr.org/~laura/

        I’ve been writing some, but I have yet to post it on the internet, because I’m still tweaking the stories that I have that are good enough to go online.

        Hope everyone enjoys the links.

  2. Amanda Wood May 11, 2013 at 17:32 #

    F%&k yeah! You are so on with this. The crappy covers are often for crappy books (although there are mistakes for sure). I am embarrassed that so many women hunger for romance novels instead of for a mixture of pleasure (writing and reading should be for enjoyment!) and education (we are literate so we can do something with our knowledge!). The crap part is that the marketing, selling, and advertising takes precedence over whether an author is any good or even if the content is any good. A good editor could fix that if they bothered.

    • Bobby May 11, 2013 at 17:43 #

      Fiction can be very educational. I’m fairly certain that I could pull off a murder/burglary/etc., without getting caught, due to the number of mystery novels that I’ve read over the years. Erotica helped me learn how to perform certain moves in the bedroom that have earned me many kudos from girlfriends. Reading the more violent versions of fairy tales taught me that I should never abuse a kid because 9 times out of ten, it’ll come back to bite me in the ass. And every novel with a bad guy has taught me that if I have evil plans, I should not dilly-dally and gloat when I should be implementing said plans.

      • Z May 12, 2013 at 03:58 #

        LMAO @ should not dilly-dally and gloat. Right!?!?

      • Paul Murray May 12, 2013 at 04:25 #

        And I’m pretty sure I could beat up a biker because of the number of kung-fu movies I have seen.

        • Bobby May 12, 2013 at 15:25 #

          Kung Fu is a skill that requires thousands of hours of practice to hammer to hammer in muscle memory. None of the skills I listened require such.

  3. Marlo Rocci May 11, 2013 at 17:39 #

    One continuous thread I keep seeing in feminism is the need to interfere with capitalism. From welfare, to wage controls, to marketing. There’s not one part of the economy they won’t try to interfere with because patriarchy.

  4. Keanu May 11, 2013 at 17:43 #

    “Hmmm Well… I write erotica (I’m not a slut and the vast majority of my reading demographic is married women… so… probably not sluts either.”

    That would be an interesting study- # of partners breakdown of women who read erotica.

    • Z May 11, 2013 at 17:50 #

      LOL! Oh I’m sure there are some slutty women who read erotica, I’m just saying one is not a de facto slut because they read (or write) it. The dirtiness level of one’s mind is not dependent on partner count. LOL

      • Z May 11, 2013 at 17:51 #

        I mean… I was a freak (mental freak level) when I was a virgin.

        • judgybitch May 11, 2013 at 17:55 #

          When I think about it, I actually agree. If you’re out BEING a slut, why do you need to read about it?

          It’s all us married ladies who enjoy mentally fucking other men, because we DON’T do it in real life.

          And it’s not even that. It’s not as if I imagine myself in the place of the heroine. I just really like reading about what she is doing.

          And it’s an excellent way to acquire new skills. When I want to make a new Mexican dish, I get out my cookbook.

          When I want to find another use for my husband’s collection of ties, I get out my erotica.
          :P

          • Z May 11, 2013 at 18:00 #

            hehehe! So true. We get the difference in fantasy and reality and that there are some fantasies that are HOT that played out in real life… would make us feel like worthless shit… AND not provide any true happiness, contentment, or security in real life. It’s only women who can’t separate reality from their fantasies that go out and slut it up.

            haha you are such a voyeur JB! :P

  5. Bobby May 11, 2013 at 18:20 #

    I’m a man, and I’ll read just about anything, though it’s usually science fiction and fantasy, especially series like the Dresden files, about Chicago’s only wizard/P.I., or the MythAdventures of Aahz and Skeeve, wherein a demon become the magic and life teacher of a young man. Both are extremely humorous and downright engrossing. Harry Dresden once escapes from being killed by calling in a magic-enforced favor and having him go and get him a donut. Aahz belongs to a trans-dimensional race of demons called the Preverts. He gets pissed a lot because everyone he meets calls him a pervert.
    I’ll read history books, just finished David McCullough’s John Adams, and science, anything by Michio Kaku. I’ve also just finished a book on Aubrey de Grey and his efforts to end aging. Interesting stuff.

    I can’t recommend the Dresden Files enough. I tell everyone I know that they should read them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dresden_Files

    Interestingly enough, I’m a sucker for historical romance novels, and usually any contemporary story that involves Christmas. Fuck that “Bite Before Christmas” stuff you have up there, it looks stupid as hell. There’s this story where the single father of twin boys, the mother ran off with another man, falls in love with the new music teacher at the local high school after the boys wish for a mother for Christmas. It’s corny as hell, but I love it. I don’t know why I like things like that. I’ve been made fun of for this, but I don’t really care too much. I never buy them, these are strictly library only. I’m not going to waste money on fluff.

    I don’t like rom-coms though, with the exception of a few like The Ugly Truth, Just Friends, Groundhog Day, Say It Isn’t So, Role Models, 50 First Dates, and 500 Days of Summer.

    Anyways, bring on the mocking for being a guy who likes romance stories aimed at women.

    • judgybitch May 11, 2013 at 18:22 #

      I don’t think you’ll find any mocking here, Bobby.

      We’re okay with guys being fags.
      :P

      I’m kidding!!!

      • Bobby May 11, 2013 at 22:00 #

        Meh, it wouldn’t be the first time that someone thought I was gay when I’m not.

        There was a girl that I went to school with that thought I was gay because she saw me reading a romance novel. I didn’t know about it until I started dating her friend. The girl confronted me and told me that she didn’t want me to use her friend as a beard. I just laughed and showed her a video of me and my ex, who happened to be with me at the time. She turned beet red and ran off, embarrassed as hell while me and my ex laughed our asses off. Turns out that she was a goody goody preacher’s girl, one of the true goody goodies, and it was the first time she’d seen anything like it. She came and apologized to me about a week later. I’ve since broken up with that girl and started dating the goody goody. I still like to tweak her about it every now and then.

        That being said, it would be pretty weird if I was gay, considering that I want to do things with Emma Watson/Rosie Huntington-Whiteley that would never cross the minds of (most) gay men.

      • Goober May 12, 2013 at 01:03 #

        Oh snap! Apply cold water to the burned area Bobby.

        • Bobby May 12, 2013 at 01:54 #

          No need to. I’m too chill for something like that to burn me.
          For some reason, every time that someone calls me gay, I think of this from Bo Burnham:

          Haters call me gay
          but that ain’t hatin’
          ‘Cause I’m not homophobic, my morals are straight
          and if I’m in the closet, then you are below me
          takin’ the b-a-t out of basement homey

          • Bobby May 12, 2013 at 02:15 #

            From here:

            Don’t watch around kids.

            New Math is also worth checking out.

            Hell, just about everything he’s done is worth checking out.

    • sqt May 11, 2013 at 19:34 #

      I like a LOT of the same stuff you do. I defend my right to stuff my mind full of brain candy! ;p

    • Paul Murray May 12, 2013 at 04:29 #

      See if you can find a copy of “Why do women write more letters than they send”, Darian Leader.

  6. danny May 11, 2013 at 21:53 #

    I should write a book and call it ” A man needs a feminist like a fish needs an enema”, give it a romance novel cover, then sit back and watch the shit storm.

    • judgybitch May 11, 2013 at 21:55 #

      Wait. Fish don’t need enemas? How do you know?

      Fish are full of shit. Or at least they taste like they are.

      Seafood.

      Barf

      *grew up on the prairies*

      • Goober May 12, 2013 at 01:02 #

        You just aren’t eating the right stuff. I’m a big outdoorsman and catch fresh salmon for my family. I’ve had a lot of people who said they do not like salmon end up loving the salmon that I get them because its fresh and processed correctly. Commercial caught seafood tastes awful to me and I’m a big seafood eater.

        • Z May 12, 2013 at 04:00 #

          I love salmon patties with veggies. I think I’m going to make that this week.

  7. David Sutton May 11, 2013 at 23:11 #

    I used to teach English (and coach football-how’s that for weirdness), and in my creative writing classes, I introduced them to the annual Bulwer-Litton awards (remember, “It was a dark and stormy night” ?). After reading some of the more lurid examples 0f the finalists, I challenged the students to write a horrible first sentence of their own. The female students bent to it with vengence, and produced some excellent purple prose.

    The males, on the other hand,absolutely could not finish the assignment. When some of the males voiced their frustration, and this happened every year, a female student would mention the fact that they read romance novels.

    • Bobby May 12, 2013 at 00:36 #

      I tried to do that once for an internet contest. I found that I can’t force myself to intentionally write shit. It annoys the shit out of me until I’m forced to change it.

    • Stue May 12, 2013 at 01:30 #

      Thanks for that, I had a look at some of the winners of those awards, it gave me a good laugh.

    • Z May 12, 2013 at 04:02 #

      HA! That’s funny. I read a romance novel once that used the word “manroot” for penis. I’m not kidding. I laughed SO hard. I couldn’t get past it. The set-up was hot as hell, but… she had to go and say “manroot”. And she used it more than once. It was pretty distressing.

  8. danny May 11, 2013 at 23:58 #

    That was my point, fish and feminists=full of shit.

  9. Kitsunegari May 12, 2013 at 01:13 #

    JB – There is a juicy Jezebel/Lindy West piece on rape jokes and female comedians that is just begging for you to destroy it with your golden prose ;)

  10. abhishek May 12, 2013 at 04:13 #

    Hey JB, you forgot to mention J K Rowling- best selling author, good writer and no sexist covers. I loved Oryx and Crake. The Blind Assasin – not so much. Do you have any other recommendations from Margaret Atwood’s stable.

  11. feeriker May 12, 2013 at 05:48 #

    Most books written by women suck!

    Where contemporary literature is concerned, I wanted with all my heart, soul, and mind to disagree with you here, but I just can’t. With very few exceptions (Anne Rice is one who comes quickly to mind), women writers today outside the Romance genre do indeed SUCK (but to be fair, most contemporary male fiction writers aren’t much better).

    I’m leafing through a college textbook I used in Sophomore English over a quarter century ago, one of the few textbooks I found useful or interesting enough to keep,that is an anthology of modern American literature, !860- Present. Among women writers of the 20th century whose works are included are Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Dorothy Parker, and Flannery O’Connor – all women who actually had something interesting and meaningful to say. Also interestingly (and telling), most of them wrote actively during the pre-Feminreich period. Coincidence? Methinks not. This probably answers my nagging question of “what the hell happened to women writers after 1970?”

    • Bobby May 12, 2013 at 06:34 #

      Mercedes Lackey is a decent fantasy writer. Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the few female young adult writers whose characterizations of both guys and girls didn’t annoy the hell out of me, and she actually had a book about a girl who works her way through being raped at a party after getting drunk. Now that I think of it, I want to re-read it. You know it’s good when schools try to ban it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_(novel)

  12. Nicky May 12, 2013 at 07:08 #

    Those gender flip book covers are SO stupid. Yeah, change the book cover to NOT represent what the book is about! I seriously read the girly GoT cover as ‘Game of Whores’ due to the flouncy script combined with the picture! And a couple of others stuck out from the slide show: ‘Carrie’ – yeah, let’s put a picture of a pretty girl with no HINT of darkness on the cover – smart move! As for Lord of the Flies picture – you what? At least try to be relevant! It has nothing to do with the gender of the author – it’s about the subject matter. Compare books from the same genre at least! I can pretty much guarantee that if a male author wrote a ‘chick fic’ novel, it would have the same sort of cover, and vice versa. (I actually googled images of ‘romance novels’ to prove this – but I got bored before I found a male author!) A lot of authors use initials rather than names – so maybe some of those ARE men writing. (I didn’t know JK Rowling was a woman for a long time, for instance.)

    • froxxy May 12, 2013 at 15:50 #

      This. I was so irritated while going through those pictures. The Carrie one and the Lord of the Flies especially.

  13. Lord Highbrow May 12, 2013 at 10:33 #

    You guys wanna hear something funny? One time, I was discussing that 50 Shades of Grey book with a former workmate. I mentioned that it’s nothing but shitty chick porn, to which her response was ‘It’s not porn’. I immediately turned around and walked away. That was not a conversation I wanted to continue to be a part of!

    • fr0xxy May 12, 2013 at 16:01 #

      women don’t want to hear that their erotic fiction is just another form of porn. Porn is bad and demeaning to women dontcha know.

  14. eddiejc1 May 12, 2013 at 13:33 #

    Your Honor JB:

    Did you hear about the publishers of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar with a new “chick-lit” cover? No, I am not making this up.

    Cover Story:Bell Jar Reprint Artwork Generates Furor–and Parodies

  15. gregariouswolf May 12, 2013 at 15:54 #

    I snorted coffee all over my laptop at the Game of Thrones redone as a romance novel. That was awesome.

  16. fr0xxy May 12, 2013 at 15:58 #

    Also what irritates me about those articles is how selective they are. There are plenty of male authors with shitty book covers. Look at most high fantasy bull shit. Gubbe loves the Wheel of Time Series, so I;m sure they’re not that bad, but the covers are fucking stupid. Look at Terry Brooks novels. They are all more reminiscent of that parody Game of Thrones cover than anything else.
    I think you’re right. It’s a bunch of bitches whining about NOTHING.

  17. Luke May 12, 2013 at 20:16 #

    Several thoughts here…

    Rich Zubaty (author of “What Men Know That Women Don’t”) defines pornography as anything that excites unnatural desires. Not only do romance novels 100% qualify, so do Vogue Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, the Lifetime movie channels, and most product advertising.

    From Roger Devlin’s “Home Economics”:

    http://www.thornwalker.com/ditch/devlin_home_ec_01.htm

    “Another factor now working against the marital prospects of ordinary men is the influence of “romantic” books and movies upon women’s imaginations.
    Hollywood comedy, for example, has long pandered to the primitive female instinct to seek a mate with limitless provisioning capability. A stock hero is the handsome, jet-setting bachelor. His wealth is simply there, without his needing to go to any trouble to acquire it, leaving him free to devote full attention to romancing the heroine.
    In “That Touch of Mink” (1962), Cary Grant flies Doris Day to Philadelphia in his private jet for a plate of fettuccini. She tags along as he addresses the UN. They go to a Yankees game and sit in the dugout with the players (he owns the team, apparently). He furnishes her with a new wardrobe complete with private fashion show. He buys up all the tickets on a peak-season flight to Bermuda so she can have the airplane to herself. None of this fantasy is based upon the heroine’s rational concern that the children be adequately provided for; it is pure female luxury. Grant is played off against a “creepy” rival whose unworthiness consists in his having to hold down an ordinary office job, vacationing in East New Jersey instead of Bermuda, and dining on TV dinners and inexpensive wine.

    This movie, along with the many others like it, actually gets cited as an example of wholesome entertainment from a more innocent age. The average dull-witted conservative media critic cannot perceive anything objectionable since there is no explicit or extramarital sex. In fact, such “romantic” pictures amount to a kind of gold digger’s pornography. In contrast to Jane Austen’s plot lines, where real risks and difficulties are encountered and moral lessons can be learned, these movies are mere wish fulfillment. They set women up for disappointment by teaching them to have unrealistic expectations about love and life. And, of course, they create absurdly unattainable standards for men.
    Or consider the related phenomenon of pulp romance fiction. The market for such books mysteriously exploded around the same time women began entering the workforce in large numbers. The pioneering company, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., saw its earnings grow two-hundredfold in the decade of the 1970s. [5] Today, Harlequin has many competitors, and some sources report that the romance genre accounts for over half of paperback sales in the United States. The lesson to be drawn, it seems, is that when women become able to provide for themselves, they do not cease to think about men; instead, marriage to a real but imperfect provider is replaced by endless fantasizing about being swept up into the arms of impossibly perfect provider-mates. I once knew a professionally successful registered nurse who owned thousands of those books; the walls of every room in her house were lined with them. She must have read them every waking hour not devoted to working or eating. Not coincidentally, she had neither husband nor children.

    Warren Farrell explained as early as 1986 why such literature is the functional equivalent of pornography for women. [6] But while a great deal has been written to deplore the spread of pornography in our society, almost no serious attention has been directed to the causes and effects of romance fiction. My hunch is that its influence is actually more pernicious than pornography, because women have so much greater natural power than men to determine real-world courtship and marriage patterns.”

  18. Luke May 12, 2013 at 20:19 #

    Next, agreed that the overall level of female professional writing is noticeably inferior to that of male writing, especially at the higher levels. Compare Robert Heinlein’s early writing to the stuff he wrote post-“Stranger in a Strange Land”. His wife grossly influenced the latter. I heard this third-hand from a friend who talked to author Harlan Ellison at a science fiction conference.

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