It’s what’s between the covers that counts …

No doubt you can point me to countless book covers that use the same photographs – there are several that use a Victorian gent by some railings that I’ve seen commented upon, but yesterday I spotted a pair for myself…

The first is Black Roses by Jane Thynne, which is set in 1930s Berlin. A young Anglo-German woman has been promised a role in a film to be made at the famous Ufa Studios where Leni Reifenstahl is queen. I’ve read this book now and enjoyed it very much, but as it isn’t published until the end of the month you will have to wait until then for my review.

Then, in my favourite bookshop the other day, I was instantly drawn to the cover on the right. Petite Mort is the debut novel of Beatrice Hitchman. It is set during the world of silent movies in Paris of 1917. I’m very much looking forward to reading this book, (once my TBR only pledge is over at the end of the month of course).

I didn’t realise they shared the same image (a stock photo from Corbis) until I plopped one book on top of the other, and had to take a second look.  It’s what’s between the covers that really counts though.

This also got me thinking about trends in publishing – Have you noticed how, just as in fashion, certain themes and decades in fiction tend to be à la mode?

The past couple of years have seen a plethora of heavyweight novels set during WWII – HHhH by Laurent Binet, The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman, and new translations of the work of Hans Fallada including Alone in Berlin spring to mind, (links to my reviews).

However, in 2013, WWII books are less prominent and the publishers have moved back a few years to the mid-1930s and books set during the rise of the Nazis are coming to the fore:  the aforementioned Black Roses; Rachel Johnson’s latest Winter Games, Hélène Grémillon’s The Confidant, Alan Furst’s Spies of Warsaw – there are more but I can’t think of them at the moment.

I’ve also noticed more new novels set during the 1950s and 1960s – (or with covers with glorious photos from the period);  possibly spurred on by the TV successes of Mad Men, and Call the Midwife?  The misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice is one I really enjoyed. The cover of Beth Gutcheon’s new novel Gossip just called out to me too, and it now resides in my TBR stack for April onwards.

In contrast to these books set in particular time periods, there are also novels set in the early decades of the movies – from Petite Mort above, to Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures.  In times of recession, there’s nothing like a bit of Hollywood or movie-star glamour to perk you up.

Of course, now I’m wondering whether these are real trends or am I just imagining them linked to my particular reading tastes!

Have you noticed any common themes in recent publishing?


8 thoughts on “It’s what’s between the covers that counts …

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Good spot! I can’t comment too much as I tend to read fewer and fewer new books nowadays, but from what I see on the bookstore tables I believe you’re right – and I think it’s simply down to laziness on the part of publishers and readers i.e. scent a trend and jump on the bandwagon! And you’re right about the recession thing too – it’s kind of a way of sticking your head in the sand by reading glossy, glamorous stories I think!

  2. tanya says:

    Great post! I am fascinated by book covers, especially the difference between covers in the UK and US. Being from Canada we get a hodge podge of both. But it would appear that what makes a a good cover in the Uk is very different from US.

  3. Desperate Reader says:

    I think there are definite trends – like the one for reprinting ‘lost classics’, or vampires, or zombies, or bondage, or Jane Austen sequels. For some reason I’m imagining a zombie Bridget Jones now. I don’t read enough current fiction to follow trends in it but when one book does well others will follow it.

  4. sakura says:

    There often seem to be periods of synchronicities in trends in books, films and other areas. When I was studying the history of science, I remember reading about scientists researching the same topic in different parts of the world at the same time without any communication (eg. Darwin and Wallace although they are in the same country). I’m sure there must have been the seed of the idea floating around but still, it’s intriguing, isn’t it?

  5. Ed says:

    I have not noticed the trends that you mention but I have noticed what Desparate Reader mentions. Whenever there is a best seller there are a lot of copy cats so that is a trend. I remember The Da Vinci code being followed by lots of sound ailke books. The success of the Twilight books also produced lots of copy cats. In Sydney I can think of one book shop that has a whole section for Paranormal Romance.

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