This is the era of the book blob

Originally published at: This is the era of the book blob | Boing Boing


Half of those pictured above have definite, rather than purely amorphous, shapes.


Do the creators of the cover (art?) still get paid more than the authors of the books do?

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I work at a bookstore, can confirm. Other common trends:

Books with gratuitous swearing (I Fucking Love Coloring, Zen as Fuck, Etc.), often themed towards a mix of nihilism and relaxation, often using the sort of scrawled, crude-looking font that I refer to as “forced whimsy”.

Books with the title “The (insert anything)'s Wife”. Seriously, there are dozens of these. I often wonder if the author has a choice or some meddling publisher is cynically saying “data says books with wife in the title sell big, cram wife in there or the deal’s off”.

Pop science books with a mostly blank white cover, often a single word title, and a picture of a mundane household object.

Children’s books featuring liberal, still-living public figures that treat them the same reverential way they would historical figures like Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. They usually are decent people, but it feels creepily like indoctrination at some point.

Bob Ross products from books to painting sets to bobbleheads that all feature the exact same single photo of Bob Ross, as though he only ever faced a camera once in his life.

The entire “dark fairy tale” or “dystopian future where teens have to do dangerous things” subgenres of teen fiction (aka the ONLY subgenres of teen fiction).

Parody books mocking Trump that are somehow still selling even though they would have been extremely outdated and irrelevant even in 2019.

In general, cover design is so recycled and homogenized that I can identify a book’s genre 90% of the time by just glancing at it without reading the title. I own two books in the same genre that use the exact same very specific color scheme and font. They look like they should be a set, even though they’re by different authors and completely unrelated.


When I worked in chain bookstores during the 90s, it seemed the covers in the bestseller displays were of two types. Many non-fiction works had a photo of the author or human subject against a white background, a simple title in a simple typeface of a single color. Occasionally they got super fancy and the subtitle and author/editor’s name would have a different face and/or color.

The most common fiction covers involved earth-toned abstracts - shapes or washes of various browns and a little dark green.

Trendiness is so dull. Think for yrselves, please.

There’s a vast amount of fanart these days - re: all diff pop culture subject matter - whose creators try V hard to make it look like the same person has done it all. The “style” is a sort of westernized anime homage, and it gets really annoying after a few years.

A science fiction show? Fake anime fanart.
A youth sleuth? Fake anime fanart.
New anime? Yup. Fake anime fanart.


That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Covers are marketing, not art. It’s like superhero movies… designers get told by publishers to imitate covers of successful books.

Because readers, like movie lovers, tend to be quite loyal to a genre.

I’ll bet one of your two sibling books was a best seller, and the other is copying it. Or they are both copying a third book that was very successful.

I’d also suggest that, in fan art, drawing in the same style as others relates to the “fan” part. If you want to see original visual styles, look elsewhere. One place might be children’s picture books, where “the reader recognizes the style” is not quite a thing (although everyone points out that it’s the parents and grands who are usually selecting the book).


Seriously, I remember quite vividly the idolization Obama got with the 2008 election run. It was the first election I could vote in, and I did vote for him. But I couldn’t get fired up. Everyone talked like he could deliver on 10% of his campaign promises. And he promised a lot of stuff I knew he couldn’t deliver on because it’d have required big changes in demographics of the american people just to make it happen.

It was strange. Some people even seemed like they worshiped the guy. But he’s just a fucking president. He’s supposed to do a tough and dirty job on our behalf. Not save us.

I felt like a bad “liberal democrat” at the time for not being absolutely PSYCHED OUT OF MY MIND for Obama.

I guess that’s the point where I realized regardless of dems or republicans, there’s too little room for nuance in a 2 party system. Nobody thinks hard all they do is yell hard.


I’m just being subjected to the wrong fans. I don’t need to see pictures of Sherlock, someone from Glee, and Star Wars characters all drawn the exact same way by three different people, but that’s how lots of kids on tumblr do. I block the ones who post that stuff. I enjoy the artists’ work that’s created in their own personal styles, and the fan pages on van Gogh, Ernst, Mucha, Munch, etc.

Don’t forget “(insert anything) Auschwitz” There have been a lot of those lately too. On the one hand it is important, especially in these days of widespread Holocaust denial, to tell the stories of those who experienced it. On the other hand, so many at once makes me think it is just another publishing trend driven by the same thinking you note.

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I consider it a good thing that the covers have an identifiable consistency. Eg., if the cover has a shirtless dude on the cover, not carrying a sword, it’s probably a romance of some sort and I can just skip it.

It’s very much like this. I remember the fervor around Obama. Yes, the first Black president is a big deal, and he might be the best president I’ve had in my lifetime, and I voted for him twice. But the veneration about him, even to this day, is overwhelming to the point of being disturbing. Trump being such a backlash in the other direction only makes that savior image of Obama more powerful. People don’t talk about his policies or the promises he did or didn’t keep, they talk about how good looking he is, how dignified and well-spoken, how his administration didn’t have a scandal happening every week, how cute his dog Bo was. Much like the children’s books, it rockets right past the ideals that these people support, the reason their influence matters, and veers straight into creepy celebrity worship of the individuals themselves, as though they’re the superhuman embodiment of those ideals and the rest of us can only passively observe them as they come to save us.

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I assumed the ‘flat’ cover art design was part of the overall trend seen in OSes and websites of flat graphics and shapes more than dimensions. Like, “hey, we’re all doing flat graphics now!”

My gripe is when a popular book series gets a cover refresh and the whooooooole damn series is done in [whatever] graphic design ‘flavor of the week’. You can cruise library shelves and used book stores to see the progression over the years, and the covers just go right downhill.


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