One of the first things I figured out when I started reading genre romance is that romance novel covers and readers speak to each other in their own visual language. Readers can pick out their favorite subgenres just by looking at the covers. A solid background with a single object ? Screams erotica. Adirondack chairs on a porch means it’s time for a small town romance, lush gowns with that signature clutch? That means it’s time to travel to Regency England.
Every now and then I’ll come across a book (usually a Harlequin) with a re-issued cover that is suddenly saying something totally different than it’s previous cover . Usually this new cover can completely change how the book is perceived and how it fits into current trends. Here are a few that caught my eye:
Erotica got a big mainstream boost after the 50 Shades phenomenon. Minimalist, clean text cover became synonymous with the genre. So it’s no wonder Maya Banks “cheesy” Harlequin titles and covers were re-issued to reflect the trend.
Caitlin Crews and Maisey Yates
Nothing screams steamy, fun and indie romance like a black and white image with bold colorful text. I think Harlequin Presents got the message when they swapped out their signature logo and serious dudes for more a fun more contemporary look. I also noticed they play up the USA Today Bestseller, something I see on a lot of indie and small press novels.
You just know Kennedy’s Midnight series when you see it. I’m talking strong powerful models and bright san serif text. So in 2017 when Harlequin re-issued Kennedy’s Silhouettes they looked a little familiar. Again they’ve minimized the Harlequin branding.
Victoria Dahl’s original Tumble Creek covers looked fun and flirty but when the mid 2010’s rolled into town, covers were all about the abs. And not just abs. . . active abs ! This trend was probably popularized with Jaci Burton’s Play by Play. When HQN re-issued this series they gave them an up close and personal ab-tastic makeover.
So what have I learned ? Well, it seems to me like romance novel covers are moving more toward minimalism. Images are simpler with no props, text is aligned with just a few key colors and so much san serif and kerning. Also the models on the cover look like they are having more fun.