Cover Critique – Minimalist vs Artwork

POSTED ON September 23, 2017 BY Austine IN Discussion

You know, I used to think cover re-designs were the worst thing ever (especially) when they happened mid-series and ruined the chances of a matching set of the book because yes that’s important to me. Anyway, I’ve since reconsidered my position and think that there are some books out there that could use new looks.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a beautifully executed Snow White/Evil Queen re-telling and this cover just does not do it justice. It’s the first of many minimalist covers that I’m tired of seeing. I’ve never been a huge fan of minimalist covers to begin with but when it comes to fantasy I really don’t want to see them.

There are SO MANY amazing artists out there, someone HAS to have a better concept for some of these books beyond text on a basic graphic.

Which brings me to another minimalist design, Jane, Unlimited. This book has alternate endings. The main character makes umbrellas. You’re telling me the best you can do is a shiny colorful cover? Sure, the metallic gleam may catch eyes in a bookstore but I bet that could be incorporated into another design too. It’s happened before.

Now Warcross is a weird one for me because while the cover fits the feel of the book, I don’t think it does justice to the amazing book within. That world and story are just so rich with detail that I think it deserves something better suited to it. I’m just not all that impressed with it to be honest.

For the record, I judge a cover based on my likelihood to pick it up in a bookstore or click on it online. Some books draw me in like a moth to a flame but there are others that just don’t.

Also, all the books I’ve mentioned I’ve enjoyed but the covers just didn’t work for me so don’t judge the book by its cover 😉

These aren’t ALL the covers out there that I’m pretty meh about but to give you an idea of the ones that I think did it well, check out the gorgeousness of these books below!


Covers that Slayed

I think what works for me with these covers is that there is something to look at. They give me a sense of the novel and/or the characters, a glimpse into the book I might want to read. It’s unfortunate but covers do make a difference deciding on a book to pick up and it’s no fault of the authors since we all know they aren’t the ones designing them. The ones below are just a few of the covers I think brought their A-game (plus they’re all great books too)!

What covers do you want to see re-done? Which ones are your faves?

About Austine

Well hello there! I see you've reached the end of the post. Bummer. But perhaps I may interest you in a comment? And in case you were wondering, I'm a 20-something college grad with a piece of paper that says I know about wildlife. Reviewer of books since 2011, amateur photographer by day, and aspiring author by night. I believe animals (and books) are better than people.

Feed the book dragon and leave your thoughts!

13 responses to “Cover Critique – Minimalist vs Artwork

  1. This is a really interesting topic. Overall I completely agree with you. Minimalist art work can work, but generally I prefer something a bit more eye catching (especially if I’m buying it for my home where my bookshelf space is limited). However, I think my biggest pet peeve of book cover art is inconsistency. Take the Throne of Glass series. The first novel’s art work was generic and boring. They redesigned it after the second book released, and the new art concept looks awesome! But I don’t think the new art work matches the main character’s description…and the newly released companion novel doesn’t even feature anything similar to the current book series art. Argh! In the end, I think I would prefer consistence in the minimalist/artwork debate. 😛

    Leigha @ Shelfleigh recently posted: Review | The Winter King by C. L. Wilson
    • Oh goodness YES I swear some covers are all over the place and then they start doing re-designs halfway through the series and. . . *sigh* ’tis a struggle

    • Exactly! We shouldn’t judge books by their covers but it’s so hard not to when that’s what’s visible on the shelves in the store or online.

  2. I have lots of thoughts on this, especially being a graphic designer haha. Trends is a really big part of cover designing. Right now, minimalism is “trendy” and in 10 years maybe it won’t be anymore. That’s the problem though. You’d think they’d go with a more timeless feel but I guess the big publishers have the money to redesign as needed.
    Right now I love the minimalist look BUT there’s still a right and wrong way to do it. I hate the minimalist covers that don’t reflect the book. There’s a balance that a lot of cover designers don’t find. That being said I always tend to favour hand drawn or artistic covers. You can tell there was a lot of effort put into them!

    Chelsea | Books for Thought recently posted: Reading List: Non-American Young Adult Authors with English Books
    • That’s interesting to think about it in terms of the trends in graphics. I can see the reason behind the minimalist covers but, as you said, a lack of connection to the book itself just doesn’t work. I think minimalist art for books could work if they took into account what they’re marketing (in terms of the story) beyond what’s trending!

    • Shimmer and Burn’s cover wasn’t bad (and the book was AMAZING) but it didn’t WOW me compared to other YA fantasies. I just expected a bit more? And same! I’ve bought books for the covers alone lol