Friday, August 25, 2006

The "clinch" is back and here to stay *groan*

You guys remember our little discussion on clinch cover art in the comments section of my “What the Fuck?” post? Well, look what I came across while digging for information on the new Paradise cover.

Here are some very interesting and informative thoughts Judith McNaught shared with readers on her SS bulletin board:


Why are we suddenly seeing romance/women’s fiction novels, including mine, with couples clinching on the covers?

The answer is: Because recently, publishers noticed that a clinch cover seems to increase the sale of a book.

That’s probably because clinch covers stand out sharply among the mind-boggling masses of romance novels which for years have been covered in flowers, houses, and other artful, tasteful, but repetitive images. As many of you have witnessed for yourselves over time, publishers are quick to notice a best selling novel with an innovative cover-art treatment, then they react by immediately imitating it until all the book covers on all the shelves become virtual look-alikes. That situation remains true until an Art Director somewhere comes up with another innovative cover for a bestseller, and then the whole frenzied process starts again. Until that cycle completes itself once again, I think we’ll probably be seeing more and more, and more, and more and more, of these clinch covers every month.

So if you’re one of the people who dislikes those covers (as am I), I’m afraid we’re in the minority. When it comes to product sales—ergo profits—corporations are interested in appealing to the preferences of the majority of buyers, not the minority.


Hence I ask, which one of you is lying about hating clinch covers? How can we “haters” be a minority when not one single person I know has ever admitted to liking them? Actually, all I ever hear is something along the lines of: “They’re embarrassing and I hate them,” and/or “I wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book with a clinch cover in public.”

So, fess up, you lying clinch cover lovers! It seems you’re a majority and there’s safety in numbers, we won’t hurt you. *wink* Might make fun of you though LOL.

I also found this very peculiar:


There’s one more equally logical explanation for this proliferation of explicit/sensual/whatever covers: There’s been a tremendous increase in sales of highly erotic “romances,” such as those being published under the Eldora’s Cave imprint. Just a few years ago, no one wanted to publish these same novels, but I understand they’re big sellers now. Maybe there’s a correlation between women’s desire for erotic content and their seeming preference for these overtly sensual book covers.


I haven’t had much experience reading erotic romances (or is it erotica? I always get those confused) and we all know how my experiment with Passion went, but most covers I’ve seen from Ellora’s Cave and Changeling Press would not be considered the “clinch” variety. So I’m wondering if she thinks non-erotic romance publishers are trying to compensate the lack of hotter sex in their books by adding hotter covers? That doesn’t make much sense to me...

Your thoughts—and confessions!!!

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48 comment(s):

Blogger Harlot said...

Oh alright. *sniff* I confess, i luuurve clinch covers, i can't get enough of clinch covers, i simply have to have them, I HAVE TO HAVE MI AMOR FABIO!!! :S

8/25/2006 01:07:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Publishers are idiots! That's the only thing I can remember from my post I just typed because BLOGGER LOST IT!

8/25/2006 01:17:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis said...

Blogger is fucked up!!! Anyway trying to remember what I typed a while ago that Blogger lost! Argh!

Publishers are stupid. They actually think those clinch covers sell? WTF? Unless everyone is a closet clinch cover like Harlot (hehe :P) everybody else then is lying? Really, who would actually prefer a groping couple cover over a decent one which you won't be embarrassed to read in public?

8/25/2006 01:22:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Publishers must be really out of touch! Do they consider that we readers might buy a book because of great reviews or the author's enormous popularity?

I like Liz Carlyle's covers. I also like plain covers with the clinch picture on the INSIDE of the cover to at least allow for some discretion when I'm reading it in public!
I don't like landscapes, mansions, castle covers.....BORING
However,
I NEVER BUY A BOOK BASED ON IT'S COVER PICTURE!

JM may have a point about sensual, erotic romances ( not erotica, diff animal, lol) selling well. I know I love that authors are adding more sizzle to their stories.
But do they have to display it all over the cover??

8/25/2006 01:32:00 PM  

Blogger Lollie Rose said...

Never liked clinch covers. Yuck! This is the reason why it took me years before I picked up a Laura Kinsale book. Her old covers are just plain UGLY! Never get compeled to buy them. But last year, I got SHADOWHEART (her "comeback book", decent cover) and really liked it. Still even then, hesitated to buy her old books. Thank God they reissued her backlist with new covers without Fabio in it or couples embrassing like there's no tomorrow!

8/25/2006 01:57:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Sometimes I buy a book based on it's cover. It's one of the perks of having a fabulous cover. It surely attracts one's attention and they stand out against other books alongside its perch on the shelves. This usually happens in chic lit books. If a cover attracts me so much, there's a big possibility I'll get that book even if the blurb is so-so. Now, clinch covers, I stay away from. Unless I know the author, usually I don't even bother picking it up.

8/25/2006 04:58:00 PM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

Where do these publishers get their stats? I used to sell books at Ebay. No profit there. LOL Anyway, speaking from experience, I know for a fact that customers prefer covers without those "people" in them. Present a title in two different covers, a boring flowery theme and a clinch cover, customers will pick the boring flowers. And those are butt ugly! But they would rather have those than a clinch cover.

8/25/2006 05:08:00 PM  

Blogger Vanessa said...

Harlot LOL. Trollop, between the last cover of Paradise, a view of Chicago at night, and this new purply clinch one, I very much prefer the former cover.

I like Liz Carlyle's covers too. Those are very pretty. Love the colors, very attractive. Those are the kind of covers that would make me pick them up and read the blurb. Not the clich ones.

8/25/2006 05:28:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Vanessa, I like the way you said " those are the kind of covers that would make me PICK UP a book and read the blurb". But not necessarliy BUY it, lol. IMO anyway.

Has anyone seen www.karenmoning.com and her book covers? Yummy! Especially, SPELL OF THE HIGHLANDER. That's what I call a hot, clinch cover and would def prompt me to pick up the book.

8/25/2006 05:50:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

I don't mind clinch covers LOL (and seriously i can't afford to be picky since where i live my choices are very few). Sure i prefer a more decent cover but if i like the author and there's no other copy, i won't hesitate to get the "people" cover.

Romance is all about sensuality and intimacy. So a couple embracing/groping/kissing fits right in. Why can't the cover reflect what's in the pages? (Just please, no stupid legless horse with a hero who has bigger tits than the buxom plastic doll he's holding, and the likes!)

I used to get too embarrassed to read romance in public LOL. But really, why would i care, right? I'm not reading romance to impress literary snobs. I'm not saying people who don't like clinch covers are snobs LOL. I'm talking about those "literary people" who would never touch a romance book because, "Those are trashy. Read a classic instead." Yeah, right.

I think i'm getting sidetracked!!! LOL Anyway, just saying, yes, i too don't like clinch covers, but would that stop me from buying a book? Definitely not. ;)

8/25/2006 06:05:00 PM  

Blogger Ed said...

Nice site, that bit that scrolls down the right hand side as you scroll down, very nice.

BUT COULD YOU PLEASE PUT A "NEXT BLOG" BUTTON AS I'M CHEESED OFF HAVING TO GO BACKWARDS TO GO FORWARDS EVERY TIME I STUMBLE UPON YOUR SITE.

Cheers.

8/25/2006 06:12:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm me thinks they put a few 'clinch' covers on some authors that seriously sell in anycase so obviously they sold duh!

As I know I will buy certain authors regardless of the cover (until they do 3 books I don't care for in a row).

H.

8/25/2006 06:16:00 PM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

Harlot, well said. I too prefer clean plain covers than clinch. Actually, I hate clinch covers! I look like a sexually frustrated housewife when buying those covers. LOL

I like Johanna Lindsey's old books. But the covers, OMG. I cover them up when I go out! LOL Was so glad when her books were reissued with plain covers without the naked men. I wish all publishers would do this. Let the books sell based on what's inside. Not because of the naked man and woman on the front.

8/25/2006 06:19:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Usually I based my covers on my "cringe" factor. If I see a clinch that makes me cringe, I won't but that book. That's why I like those step-back covers, it hides the clinch. Good compromise if you ask me. Those who like clinch can have them, those who prefer a plain cover can have them as well.

8/25/2006 06:32:00 PM  

Blogger Lily Moon said...

You know it's funny, clinch covers are usually the ones that attract my attention. But do I buy them? Hell no. Because I'm embarrassed to purchase them, not to mention read them in public. LOL

8/25/2006 06:44:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Romance covers used to bother me a lot, especially clich covers. I still don't like them actually, because I'd rather use my imagination, thank you. Some of the people on the cover doesn't even match the description of the characters in the book! Look at Matt in the new PARADISE cover! YUCK!

Many of romance covers are just too awful for words and please, am I supposed to find those naked gay looking men attrative? LOL

8/25/2006 06:55:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Lollie Rose, I know what you mean about Laura Kinsale's book! EUUWWW I gag everytime I see Fabio's face on FLOWERS FROM THE STORM! It took me months before I actually purchased the damn book and only because I love LK.

8/25/2006 06:58:00 PM  

Anonymous Tisty said...

I think the problem is the trending thing in covers ie:

you go to buy a romance and checking out the covers you see: flowers, flowers, flowers, big boring house, flowers, looking glass, slipper, flowers, fan, flowers, flowers, flowers, flowers..... Oh man titty. You don't like man titty on your books particulary, because it makes you laugh and the woman being clamped to them looks like a complete bitch... but you pick it up and maybe buy it because its different and the blurb doesn't sound that bad and if you don't take it out in public...

Forward 12 months....

you go to buy a romance and checking out the covers you see: man titty, man titty, bitch, man titty, muscly back (With the promise of man titty at the frount) drag queen, man titty, man titty, man titty.... Oh flowers....

So the problem isn't perhaps closet clinch cover lovers but the mindlessness of cover artists.

And for the record I'm no fan of the clinch cover but I have been known to refer to them when I can't rember what the Hero's hair colour is etc. Nothing makes me crosser than when and artist is so distracted by tits (Both his and hers) that they get the details wrong!!!

8/25/2006 07:45:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

I'm not ashamed to read romance or any books I read. But it's embarrassing to see people looking at you funny or hear them snickering when they see you're reading a book with a buxom blonde on a stupid outfit, her boobs spilling out, leaning or caressing a naked man who's in badly need of a haircut, both in the throes of
orgasm! What's more when the illustrations don't even resemble the descriptions of the characters within the pages! LOL

Unless it's a fave author, no way I'll be buying a book with stupid cheesy covers, and even then, I'd prefer to read it in my room.

8/25/2006 07:53:00 PM  

Blogger C said...

The clinch covers have such hot men and flawless women. Hey - you can always get a book cover.

8/25/2006 08:34:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Tisty, hilarious observation there,lol! And how right you are, IMO!

I wish we could forward all of our very inciteful opinions and observations to these publishers....

Like, Get a clue Avon!

8/25/2006 09:34:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I hate romance covers. And not just the clinch cover, anything with shirtless testosterone "hunk" cover. I think they are demeaning to the genre. Romance authors are missing a lot of potential readers because of them: the literary snobs who will never touch a clinch covered book, the clueless readers who think romance is nothing but trash, the conservative/repulsed readers who see these covers and cringe.

When I'm in a bookstore buying romance novels, no way I'll be picking clinch. I'm ashamed to be seen buying those. Sorry, I'm a wimp. LOL There's so much to say to read clinch in public, and not be embarrassed.

8/25/2006 09:37:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Harlot, Your "why can't a cover reflect what's in the pages" comment....I thought the same thing.
Do these cover artists even read the book? LOL, I doubt it!!

8/25/2006 09:39:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

HM,
Have you encountered a wrong blurb? I did! OMG, i think that's MUCH worse than a wrongly depicted illustration! Some blurb writers (who write those anyway?) can't even get the names of the characters spelled correctly.

I also hate it when the heroine is only identified by her first name or Lady Puss, while the mighty hero's whole name is given: first, second, third(!) name with surname and full title to boot! WTF?

8/25/2006 09:51:00 PM  

Anonymous Tisty said...

Hotmama, THEY DONT READ THE BOOKS BEFORE CREATING A COVER. A writer sends in a discription of her characters and stands back to await for the disaster to appear. Boring Flower covers are probably a relief!

I was on a loop where a new writer was complaining that, without consulting her, her publisher had put on their web sight a cover for her book that she hadn't seen before. It was only when a friend gave her a heads up she went and found it. Not only was she suprised that a cover could exist in the public domain without her knowledge, she was royally ticked that her red-headed heroine had suddenly become a blonde! That means to me that they don't even read the nice digestable blurb they get from the writer!!!

Scary or what??

8/25/2006 09:53:00 PM  

Anonymous Tisty said...

A wrong Blurb....??? WTF, how is that even possible??

And yeah I've often wondered about the Hero get a full name + all titles, while the Heroine is just known as Kat, Pussy or whateva. Maybe because your meant to identify with the heroine so much that your on first name terms right from the start. Or maybe we are all just meant to be such material obsessed bitches that we need to know that the hero has lots of nice titles as well as breasts that make mine looke small (And i'm DD!!!)

8/25/2006 10:00:00 PM  

Blogger Lollie Rose said...

Yikes, Tisty, that's bad. I feel sorry for your friend. No wonder we get such bad covers!!!

Harlot, wrong blurb? OMG that's worse! Thank God I've never encountered those. I'd rather have an ugly clinch cover than an inaccurate blurb. I can always pretend the naked couple in the front doesn't exist, besides my mind is capable of imagine what the characters look like without illustrators depicting them, but with a wrong blurb, you might have soemthing you don't even want to read about!

8/25/2006 10:11:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Tisty, oh yikes, that sucks. :/

Yes, wrong blurb. Sometimes they give wrong descriptions of the characters. I mean, for example a a heroine would be described as sexy flirt when the heroine within the pages is actually a shy flower. Truly irritating when someone misleads you.

What I hate about blurbs are the lengthy ones with over dramatic descriptions like "a forbidden and tumultuous, fiery love that would set their lonely hearts afire..." Oh please. That doesn't give me anything at all! Certainly doesn't help me to choose a book! Just give me hint of the plot. It's romance, i know it's a love story for fuck's sake!

8/25/2006 10:18:00 PM  

Blogger Putita said...

Hate clinch covers but I buy a book based from the author and storyline, rarely by cover. But if the cover is very pretty and interesting, I might pick it up and buy it.

8/25/2006 10:22:00 PM  

Blogger T-girl said...

Well the covers of today are not as bad as the covers of the early 90's and '80s! Remember those? Some poor woman getting her clothes RIIIIPPPED off, a look of orgasmic pleasure on her face and the him looking like he is not sure if he wants to have sex or beat the shit out of her!

Honestly, I am a big cover girl, not cinch covers persee but I do like it took "pretty!" You can tell a lot by the cover, if it is corney... I am not there! '

I like the colors on the new JM but not the look... does that make sense? Anyway... I like the "picture" look they have going right now but agian... I would rather not have the orgasmic couple, although in this way it would not deter me, just make me cautious

Oh and I think she is trying to say that the book industry may have seen the "boom" of Erotica so they are trying to incorporate some of it into their other covers. Boosting sales and bringing some of those people over to other lit. It is a sales tatic basically of "SEX SELLS!" First lesson of marketing class! LOL

8/26/2006 01:05:00 AM  

Blogger Dakota Cassidy said...

DO NOT throw stuff at me. I'm a clinch cover-lover.

So there. Take that. LOLLOL. ANd you can't make me say otherwise.

Whew, it's good to be back. I've been busy :)

Hey, ladies!

DC :)

8/26/2006 01:46:00 AM  

Anonymous Desiree said...

To be honest, I hate clinch covers. Covers do matter! It's really irritating when you're reading romance and passersby look at you like "gee, read a real book" or something. I noticed when you read sci fi books, you'll get the same reaction. I prefer the discretion, not to have everyone knows what I'm reading. I don't like people seeing I'm reading a book with a naked guy on the cover! Unless it's Brad Pitt or George Clooney but I doubt they can afford them.

Lorelei mentioned Johanna Lindsey. I agree about those old covers. Ugh, Fabio, I hate those despite the fact that she's one of the authors I like.

8/26/2006 08:13:00 AM  

Anonymous L Foster said...

First, this is such a great blog. Now about clinch covers, I have to say I love it. I can understand why some people find it embarrassing or get offended by them but let's face it, clinch covers help put romance books on the map. When you see a clinch cover, that's nothing but romance. Romance novels are always evolving, plots are always changing, style, terminologies used by authors (as it has been proven in your penis post below, very funny by the way, good job), etc. But no matter what changes are occuring, clinch covers are as much a part of the whole process. I just don't agree that clich covers have no place in romance because it's giving romance a bad name. Badly plotted books, bad writing, gossips, authors fighting each other are what giving romance a bad name, not bare chested men on the cover.

Keep up the good work!

8/26/2006 09:20:00 AM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Can you believe I'm working on a Saturday? Ugh. Anyway, I agree with L Foster. Clinch shouldn't be considered as a thing that gives romance a bad name. It's part of the genre. However, I do believe many readers are put off by it. For example, I don't like clinch covers. It kept me from buying books by authors I'm not familiar with. This is why I think those stepback covers are great.

8/26/2006 11:20:00 AM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

We all like the stepback covers, but publishers probably don't, because the clinch can not attract a reader from the shelf. It's covered up! lol

L Foster, you didn't happen to write the hilarious, sexy TRUTH OR DARE, did you? *wink*

8/26/2006 11:33:00 AM  

Anonymous 2nd Amdt said...

I can't believe the number of people who said they were embarrased to be caught reading a romance novel! I really thought that attitude was gone.

I don't care one way of the other about clinch covers - some will prompt me to read the blurb, others don't, but I never buy a book based on the cover.

I'm an elected official where I live, and when I first got in to office, I started to realize how many people "knew" me, or realized who I was. All of a sudden, the people at the UBS called me "madame trustee", the guy at the pizza place knows I eat just Crazy Bread for a meal, the people at the gym now know elected officers have cellulite. It's disconcerting, but I'm not doing anything illegal, so why should I be self-conscious?

I read romances in public, it doesn't bother me, and I often tell people that I am a big reader of "trashy" romance. I figure I am where I am at in this world because of my voracious appetite for reading; I shouldn't feel bad about what I was reading.

8/26/2006 11:40:00 AM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

Step-back cover is nice but isn't that one of the reasons why book prices are getting through the roof?

Aynway, I don't mind clinch however I would prefer it if they didn't look like an uncomfortable couple in dire need of privacy to get it over with. And it would be nice if the artists would get the right hair color, period costumes, character's age, etc right.

Like I said yesterday, "people" covers are less popular. I refuse to be embarrassed by a book cover though. It may attract or repel me but it all comes down whether I like the author or the blurb sounds interesting.

8/26/2006 12:02:00 PM  

Blogger Lola Lovegood said...

I don't have a problem with clinch covers. I buy a lot fromt he UBS and sometimes you have no choice but to get 80's versions of books and most, if not all, of those books have some sort of clinch for art. What I usually do is cover them with a simple paperback cover (I have a couple, I think I paid like 6 bucks for them at target).

Unlike others that have commented I do go back and check the models in the cover for reference of the characters physical description and get quite peeved when the characters are totally different from the picture!

I agree with L Foster's remark: "Badly plotted books, bad writing, gossips, authors fighting each other are what giving romance a bad name, not bare chested men on the cover."

I have been completely turned off by those cat-fighting authors of late. I don't care if they have the prettiest covers in the world, if they are so unclassy that they're publicly trashing each other I'm not buying them!

Also, sadly, there is a lot of badly written/edited romance out there =( I wish publishing houses would be more careful as to what they put on the shelves.

8/26/2006 02:15:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

After pondering this a bit more, lol, I have to say that when I'm thinking "clinch" I was seeing the older version, Fabio-style lol.
But the modern clinch, more shadowed, less vivid colors (like KMM's SPELL...) I do like. It's sensuas but not "loud and crass".

I do think that romance novels almost demand some kind of sensuas cover. The question is, what would we all like to see on the cover?

I can't think of how to spell "sensuas"!

8/26/2006 03:09:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

sensuous, duh!

8/26/2006 03:13:00 PM  

Blogger queen_Lestat said...

It's contrived. It really does sell, apparently cos it appeals to our "fantasies" and "imagination". I think it's trying to make semi pr0n look "decent" enough to be resold at a school book bazaar or summing. Have you seen the futuristic ones? where the women are these Amazonian looking things in what looks like fur shift dresses?

8/26/2006 05:13:00 PM  

Blogger Helena said...

I hate these covers full stop & I won't buy them. There are so many authors to choose from now, I don't have to put up with less than what appeals to me as a reader. Otherwise I won't waste my hard earned $ on them.

8/26/2006 06:29:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

You can't blame someone when she doesn't feel comfortable reading clinch in public. Those are seriously naked dudes in the covers LOL, and usually most of them have the "lordy, i love myself, kiss my big pecs" look. It's the same as not calling someone prude just because she prefers differently or does what SHE thinks is proper.

Now, some people just don't like it. Period. Different people, different tastes and preferences. Some just want the option of discretion rather than showing everyone whatever it is she's reading. The thing with lurid covers, it's insulting by implying that romance books are nothing but mindless sexual romps. But yeah, sex sells. Or as the publishers have said, attracts attention (doesn't mean people would buy though as many, including myself, prefer no clinch). I think it's the same as those suggestive, sexy ads. Not always related to the product but they surely get your attention. But would people ACTUALLY buy? That's the question.

Like i said, i don't let a cover keep me from reading/purchasing a book. LOL, many of my books have naked couples who look so uncomfortable reclining in some god-forsaken meadow i feel sorry for the models. All i can say is if you're uncomfortable reading clinch in public, cover it LOL. It's easy to cover them up with a paper. If you can't make one up and still want to read, just think, "Never explain. Your enemies won't believe it anyway." ;)

8/26/2006 06:42:00 PM  

Anonymous Ollenska said...

Well said, Harlot. For me, I am SICK of people making fun of romance book covers! I purchase books according to the author, synopsis, reviews not by naked men on the cover. For a while when romance moved away from clinch, I was so glad to see them slowly being replaced by more decent covers, but now, they're actually making a comeback. Ugh.

Olly

8/26/2006 09:01:00 PM  

Blogger Aggie said...

I hate them to - but will cover over if it is an author I particularly like. More often than not, it would have to be a book I must have before I'd bother though.
Where Publishers are concerned it is more GREED sells than sex I think. That's wht they feel free to ignore their most LOYAL readers/purchasers. LOL

8/26/2006 09:43:00 PM  

Anonymous Mikal said...

I hate people on covers and therefore, hate clinch covers.

FReaking, I don't want to see a couple having whoo-hoo on the covers of my books; the writing is enough for me.

Besides, seeing people on covers throw me off.

8/27/2006 02:06:00 AM  

Blogger snowman530 said...

I COME HERE !It's beauty!

8/27/2006 04:57:00 AM  

Blogger Vixen said...

I'm late on discussion again (out of town with CRAZY family)but I will put my 2 cents in anyway.

I used to buy books more on their cover until I figured out which authors I liked. Now I don't really care what the cover looks like as long as the author is good.

As for the clinch cover I don't mind reading a book with one but it doesn't hurt if the guy is REALLY sexy and he MUST have nice abs.

But I admit that if I know I'll be reading in public (a plane, dr. office) I won't bring a book with a clinch cover unless it's tastefully done. I have some books I'm even embarrassed that my husband sees, lol. Some are just over the top!

But with and without clinch, some can be really cheesy.

L.Foster, is this you? Who created the sexy Winston brothers?

8/28/2006 08:20:00 AM