Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here's News: Boys Don't Like Girly Book Covers...

My co-worker sent me a link to this piece in a British paper discussing the fact that publishers aren't choosing covers with universal appeal for boys and girls. It's not exactly breaking news that boys won't get caught dead reading books with pink covers. But I wonder if a cover can appeal to both boys and girls? As Hodder Children's Books publishing director Anne McNeil says in the article, “Where books are about real contemporary characters rather than fantasy, we find that it is challenging to produce a cover which appeals equally to both genders--the danger is, you end up appealing to neither. Therefore we do tend to make a targeted decision, and are comfortable that this produces more sales.” That's smart--it's also not breaking news that girls read more than boys and thus buy more books.

But why? Is i due to all the pink book covers out there? Video games? Peer pressure? Societal mores? Who knows. As the mother of a 3-year-old boy, I've found it fascinating that my son, through no initial urging by his parents, is obsessed with things like delivery trucks, construction equipment and robots. He tells me certain toys, books, and his light-blue sweatpants which he refuses to wear are "for girls." How does this happen? Is it in his DNA to be repulsed by pastels? Is it because of me--am I too girly? I love pink. I have a pink dressing room (pink carpet, pink pillows) and a pink bathroom (pink sinks, pink toilet, pink tub). Pink = mommy, Mommy = girl therefore Pink = girl. Murray = boy therefore Murray avoids pink or anything with a pink-ish and thus girlish quality.

Why is it always the mother's fault?


grey said...

(I found your blog after picking up the 2008 CWIM)
Funny post - having worked as a book cover designer for several years and now the proud father of a 15-month old girl, I can relate on many levels. My wife and I were determined to avoid heavy-handed gender stereotypes with our daughter, no bows in the hair, pink clothes, barbie dreamhouse, etc. But it turns out her complexion makes her look great in pink, and when we let her run loose in Barnes & Noble she goes straight to the Fairy Princess books. Nature 1, Nurture 0.

Eric Orchard said...

Ugh! It's not true. Most publishers over market to a specific gender. I worked at a kid's book store for a year and boys love to read but a pink book indicates it's not for them.

Mary Cunningham said...

I was afraid that boys wouldn't like the first book in my Cynthia's Attic series because of the cover. It isn't pink! But it's green with the picture of a young girl on the front. Also, the title: Cynthia's Attic: The Missing Locket sounded like a girls book.

The time-travel element has pulled boys in, though. I've gotten as many positive e-mails from boys as girls.

The titles of books two and three, "The Magic Medallion" and "Curse of the Bayou" have more universal appeal and the covers are gender neutral.

Guess you can't judge a book by its cover!

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