There is an interesting post by Amy McCulloch over at the Voyager blog about the shift from illustrative to abstract art on genre covers. It is a welcome trend, the move from this to this (to pick two random examples). However, at the end of the piece McCulloch gives an example of Voyager moving in the opposite direction with Stephen Hunt. Here is the old cover of Secrets Of The Fire and the new one:
I can understand why they’ve done it; it is well known that the blander and more generic a cover, the more successful it is with the target audience. At the same time, it is still a shame. I’ve certainly always admired Hunt’s old covers. (Who is responsible? Artists and designers get a bit of a raw deal, these things are often hard to find out.) It is also slightly ironic given the fact McCulloch starts her post by saying:
We also have to be extra careful not to alienate any potential readers as external market research has shown us that sometimes more traditional-looking, illustrative fantasy covers are off-putting for newcomers to the genre… Basically, more graphic, elegant covers are hopefully appealling to our extremely loyal genre fanbase as well as to new readers who perhaps wouldn’t expect to enjoy a ‘fantasy’ novel — and changing the perception of the genre as a whole.
Unrelatedly but speaking of stylised covers, here is the nicest Bible ever (via Caustic Cover Critic):