Cover Trend: The Almost-Kiss

So here’s a 2012 cover trend that can be shelved beside girls hanging out under water and getting up close and personal with shoes and that’s the almost-kiss. It’s by no means a new trend, but it’s one that the more I see it, the less I can distinguish the books from one another — and some are even the same teens in the picture. For me as an adult reader (and I know I’m not the target demographic), these covers aren’t the kind I like being seen in public with. In fact, I’ll take off the dust jacket for hardcover books that have the almost-kiss on the cover. But more frustrating, I think, is not all of these books are about the romance. Some are, but not all of them are, and I think in depicting the cover image as the almost-kiss, the book is being branded as only one thing. It’ll automatically turn off many readers — the Vivian cover I linked to above? My teens really don’t like it because it makes the book look like it’s a romance when in fact, it’s a story with a lot of great feminist messages in it.

Here’s a sample of this year’s almost-kiss covers. Are there others? What are your thoughts? All descriptions are from WorldCat.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (May 1, 2012): Seniors Rosaline Caplet and Rob Monteg, neighbors and best friends, have finally become a couple at their Southern California high school, but when Rosie’s estranged cousin Juliet moves back into town and pursues Rob in an unstable, needy, and vindictive manner, Rosie starts to worry not just about Rob’s emotions, but about his very life.
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (June 19, 2012): When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed but when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.
Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R Hubbard (available now):  The summer Ryan is released from a mental hospital following his suicide attempt, he meets Nicki, who gets him to share his darkest secrets while hiding secrets of her own.
First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky (May 8, 2012): Ten months after his twin sister dies, with his family falling apart, Gray Thomas meets an unusual girl at the community college who makes him think life is interesting again.
The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt (July 10, 2012): In this story told from alternating viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Kelsey seeks to redeem her formerly flawless reputation with the help of a senator’s sexy but arrogant son, who has ulterior motives.
I’m not entirely sure how fitting the covers are for the books, though some of them hint at the romance that’ll emerge in the story. It’s a bonus we get the windswept hair in one of them, too.
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  1. says

    It's kind of like the romance novel…while I like what's inside, I'm not a fan of the half-clothed men & women all over each other on the cover when I'm out in public (I'm fine with it at home–yay, hot man!).

    And you're right. It's automatically branded, and only romance readers will pick it up. I know most of my students would see that cover and turn up their noses (though the romance girls snatch those books up so fast my head spins!).

    • says

      I can see the same being true of romance novels — there are some pretty red-face making covers on those (and worse, most are paper back so you can't even ditch the dust jacket).

      I guess if the romance girls are picking it up, they're finding a really good story, even if the romance isn't quite what they expect.

  2. says

    Ha – I went to our book vendor's website to look for that one teen book I just received that I think fits, and at the tops of the books the vendor is pushing is an adult book with a near kiss: The Vow / Kim Carpenter (isbn 9781433675799)! The teen book turns out to have the faces too far apart to count: Kiss crush collide / Meredith, Christina.

  3. says

    I'm not a big fan of the almost-kiss cover, either. But I discovered something interesting the other day — as I was browsing Netflix I was looking for rom com. Something cute and funny. And Netflix is just a bunch of movie posters (covers) and I was basically going for the cutesiest one there was before diving into synopses.

    So I was looking for something to match my mood, a movie poster that would align with my idea of romance in the visual realm. Interesting. I wonder if the same goes for teens — if they're not embarrassed by these covers…do they see a kissy-faced cover and think, "ooh, romance, I want THIS because there's KISSING in it?" And not care because maybe they're purchasing it on ebook? I know that for me, I'm not sure if I'd go rummaging through my local movie rental place for cutesy-looking movies.

    I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. I'm tired. What I'm TRYING to say is that I do the same thing with movies on Netflix.

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