Guilty of Judging Books By Their (Gendered) Covers? Author Maureen Johnson Challenges You to a Coverflip!

Gendered book covers? They’re a thing, as Johnson’s coverflip experiment proves.

G thrones Collage

One day, someone in the world of marketing thought it’d be a great idea to “sell” products to women using formulas that involve some combination of pink, glitter, and long locks blowing in the breeze. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with a healthy dose of girly flair (just roam around our website), books written by female authors are often slapped with packaging that, in the words of author Maureen Johnson, “suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality.”

That’s why she took to social media to see what would happen if, let’s say, A Game of Thrones was written by Georgette R.R. Martin instead of George. As you can probably discern, the design attached to the former features anime-like characters, pink stars, and a castle in the background (for good measure).

on the road Collage

As Johnson writes for Huffington Post, “When I hear people talk about ‘trashy’ books, 95% of the time, they are talking about books written by women. When I see or hear the terms ‘light’, ‘fluffy’, ‘breezy’, or ‘beach read’… 95% of the time, they are talking about books written by women… Which is why yesterday, I proposed a little experiment on Twitter. I asked people to take a well-known book, then to imagine the author of that book was of the opposite gender, or was genderqueer, and imagine what that cover might look like. Because we have these expectations in our heads already.”

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Carrie Collage

That day, her request garnered hundreds of responses, and we’d have to say that yes, there’s a good chance that a Carrie novel featuring a sorority girl-esque cover wouldn’t be considered front-of-store material.

We’re hesitant to deem the feminine covers “bad”, but the sad truth of the matter is that covers that appear “masculine” or neutral are taken more seriously. In the end, female authors lose because their content is being shoved into “fluffy” packaging. They fail before their work is even given a fair shot. And readers –both male and female –lose out on what could be a life-altering read.

Diana Denza is BettyConfidential’s contributing editor. 

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