Lookalike book covers: Give 'em the boot!

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1074156938020860It all started, I suspect, with Melissa Bank’s 1999 best-selling novel-in-stories, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing and its striking cover photo by Peter Davidian. This was the prototypical chick lit title that helped kick off a very lucrative fiction genre, and it put its best foot forward with an image of a single gal dressed for the elements, from her ear-flapped cap to her sturdy black rain boots. And since that epochal moment in publishing, the rain boot (or galoshes, or — for the Anglophiles out there — Wellingtons) has provided book shoppers a quick visual signal that the contents should contain a hardy soul prepared for anything, including stormy weather in the romance department. In other words, it’s become a cliché, one that’s popped up on the covers of everything from Po Bronson’s 1995 nonfiction collection Why Do I Love These People? to Marisa de los Santos’ 2008 novel Belong to Me.

But in the last couple months, the wellies seem to have, well, mushroomed — particularly on the jackets of books that share a sort of chick-littish vibe. Why are publishers rubber-stamping this proliferation of rubber footwear? And what the heck is going on with the sloppily PhotoShopped rodents on Holly Robinson’s ridiculously titled memoir, The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter? Let’s just say that that cover has none of the elegance of the hedgehog…

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Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • Kevin

    Trailblazing doesn’t necessarily sell–familiarity does. Thus copycats. Plus it’s easier to rip off someone’s idea–”lets do it like this, but add gerbils”

  • slgreatsuccess

    Interesting – I wonder what is behind it? Makes me want to associate these books with UK publishing houses. You know how the English love their wellies!

  • stilettostorytime

    This annoys me to know end and sometimes there is not even a subtle difference..it is the exact same cover…I feel like they insult the reader’s intelligence…like we won’t notice!

  • Tee

    Hm, that could be a fun new game to keep the kids busy while I’m browsing at the library ;)

    OMG – the Gerbils are cracking me up.

  • Jackie Witkowski

    What about, “My Best Friend’s Girl”…wellies again. I work at B&N and I love making endcap displays of book with similar covers. Most recently I did ones with pictures of feet on the covers…it was cute!

  • Pleiades

    And don’t forget the boots on the original cover of The Time Traveler’s Wife!

  • Anonymous

    I get what the author is saying. But on the other hand, these boot-laden covers represent only 7 books out of how many thousands (millions?) of titles that have been published since 1999.

  • anon

    It could be a societal meme. The idea of boots representing a sturdiness or ruggedness, indicating one’s preparation for coming hardship. I’m reminded of a Walker Evans photo – Floyd Burroughs’ Work Shoes:
    http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/Literary_Criticism/postmodernism/examples/evan_shoes.htm

  • millie

    How hard could it be to put a gerbil in a boot and photograph it? That photoshopping is bizarre.

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