Recently I read a several pages long thread about romance covers. It had the basics – too much sex, not enough sex, too silly, very hot, not hot – and the ever present “I’m Embarassed to Buy This Book Or Be Seen Reading It In Public” because of the cover.
Also, IMO, because women are taught to be ashamed of their preferences if their preferences tend toward something that is mainly “for women”
Now, the deal is, for me anyway – I think there are a great many wonderful covers. A lot of sexy, hot covers. My personal taste tends toward sensual but not overtly sexual and I’m not fond of the overly sexualized “hot button” covers (by that I mean certain types of portrayals of women that annoy the hell out of me and push my buttons).
Now that I’m on this side of the yard, I know firsthand that getting a cover is way more complicated than I’d ever imagined back before I started writing. Firstly, I know the author is not the one who (in most cases) designs the cover. Some publishers ask for your input, some don’t. I know I can get a cover with everything I asked for and totally hate it. I also know I can get a cover I’d never imagined for that book and it blows me away.
Certainly, anyone can see a cover and cringe, feel like even though they love romance or what have you, that the cover is just too explicit to take out in public. I get that and there are times when I choose a different book to read while waiting for something because I’m trying to respect the nature of the event (at the pediatrician’s office for instance)
I also know that no clerk at a bookstore will ever make me feel guilty or stupid for reading romance because he or she makes judgments about me based on a cover or a genre. I know what I read is my business and no one is going to make me doubt my intelligence – especially when they work for a bookstore and romance is such a huge portion of the market!
Whether I read romance or science fiction or self help or a cook book, it’s my business. I’m an intelligent, able woman so what does some dude behind the counter at a bookstore, or sitting across from me on the bus or in the same restaurant know about me?
I know I’m smart and I know my readers are smart too. I hate that women are made to feel guilty or silly for liking to read romance and I hate to be patronized by authors who tell women it’s “okay” to read romance even if it is silly and shallow – that’s called a backhanded compliment and women are the masters of such things so we know em when we see em.
I suppose I’m just annoyed that anyone would feel justified in sneering down their noses when a customer brings a romance novel to the counter at XYZ bookstore.