Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Judging a book by it's cover literally

In the NY Times this morning,there was an article about the upcoming Rick Moody book The Diviners but not about the content of the pages but the cover art. At Book Expo America,the publishers saw folks not bother to pick up copies(I already had a copy from work so I didn't grab one either)from the huge display and did some checking around as to why. Their main concern was that women were rejecting it due to the cover,so they changed it.

Hopefully,the link in the title will show you the difference but just in case,I'll describe the artwork in question-the Advance Reader's Copy(ARC for short)has a large wraparound battle scene bathed in a bright golden aura with a Robert E. Howard theme. The front of the jacket has a barbarian warrior holding aloft a forked branch as he is perched atop a large rock. The new jacket has the same has the same Conan wannabe but his image is now shown on a movie screen in a darkened theater.

Normally I would be against cover change just on general principle(my dad was an artist)but in this case,I think they may have the right idea. When I first saw the ARC,I thought it was some Robert Jordan hunk of junk but then I looked at it later and noticed the author's name. I was going"Rick Moody? Ice Storm Rick Moody?"(I saw the movie). I have to confess that I've only read an introduction written by Moody for The Mayor of Casterbridge(and it was very well done-got me to atleast try to read it but Thomas Hardy outdones Hawthorne in the major league angst department)but this cover with his name on it intrigued me. However,in this biz
one look is all some folks give a book and a bad cover does turn people off,especially if you're
not a name brand author.

My only suggestion would've been to project the barbarian onto a TV screen-the plot of the book(yes Virginia,there's a plot)is about a woman trying to launch a miniseries about the history of diviners-water finding folk,hence the Mr. Pointy held by the He-Man cover boy. Women are central characters in the novel which is the main reason Time Warner was nervous about the
lack of feminine interest. I wish Rick Moody and co. well and just hope the book gets good publicity from the reviews so that this cover art change doesn't become a harbinger of bad book sales.

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