Judge a Book By Its Cover Trend

Trying to attract attention to a Young Adult book via only its cover can be hard. It needs to set the right tone. It needs to attract a target audience. It needs to evoke curiosity, want, or need.

It needs to look older than a children’s book, which are usually painted.

It needs to look younger than an adult book

And generally YA has romance, but without the sex of New Adult.

It needs to convey which genre it is, ie contemporary, historical, sci-fi, fantasy.

When I first started blogging six years ago, the hot trend in YA cover was what I call ‘pretty white girl in a prom dress.’ I absolutely loved them and I bought several books based on the cover art… which is pretty much what marketers want young adults, with their disposable income and impulsiveness to do:

I still think this cover is one of the most beautiful ever to adorn a book.

Some other covers that were popular during the ‘pretty dress’ phase.

But before this, back when I actually was a young adult, Twilight had started a minimalist trend that has ebbed and re-surged, with a single concept image on a black or white background:

Do you think it is a coincidence The Hunger Games was given a cover so similar to Twilight? This concept almost fell out of favour for a while and was only used in the really hyped books that were huge upon their release, but even then, they were tweaked slightly and given more colour and action.


We’re seeing a similar resurgence of this Twilight model now. No longer is the hot trend in YA pretty models on covers posing in gorgeous dresses. Now the trend is for symbols or single images on plainer backgrounds:

Ruined (Ruined, #1)

Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron, #1)

Everless (Everless, #1)

While I’m still a fan of the prom dress covers, I think that today in 2018 it sends a very different message to the target audience than the symbol covers do. I’ve noticed upon reading the books that the dress covers tend to feature more romance than the symbol covers.

Most of the covers I picked for the symbols examples are fantasy, too, because it’s my favourite genre but also the hot genre of today.

Of course, we’re not actually judging the quality of the books by their cover art, but cover art helps the target audience find the kind of books they want to read. If I see a book with this kind of cover art, I know it’s something that’s aimed towards me as a target reader.

What’s your favourite YA cover art trend? Is it easy for you to figure out at a glance if a book is your type? Let me know in the comments below!


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,757 other subscribers

One thought on “Judge a Book By Its Cover Trend

  1. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    I loved the girl in the dress trend– even though I wasn’t usually interested in that genre of books, I just liked looking at them. Minimalist is also nice & I’m glad it’s back. Although I’m glad that every book isn’t trying to do Hunger Games-like symbols on the cover like they were for a while.

    I hated the almost kissing covers that YA Romance used to always have. I’m a sucker for cool font and pretty colors, so any books like that immediately go on my radar. I honestly don’t even know what the cover trends are right now?? Ombre was big for a while, but it has died down. Maybe it’s just simplicity like you said!!

Comments are closed.