Top Ten Book Cover Turn-Offs

Hello and happy Top Ten Tuesday, folks! This week’s theme is a cover freebie, which is perfect because for the longest time I’ve wanted to take you guys through my book cover turn-offs.

Quick disclaimer: I’m not a designer and I fully admit that it can be ridiculously hard to source or design the perfect cover — this is all really just personal preference. Now that that’s over, let’s get on with it. 💕

1) Nudity (or implied nudity).

I feel like New Adult is particularly guilty of putting semi-nude men (and sometimes women) on their covers, but I must say, none of these covers have actually enticed me to buy the book. In fact, plenty of times it’s turned me off. :/

I get that it’s for branding — i.e. the moment you pick up a book with nudity on the cover, you immediately know what it’s about — but I’m just not into it. 🙅

2) Face close-ups.

I don’t mind if it’s tastefully done and you can’t really pick out the features of the person, but sometimes the models that cover designers have chosen don’t align with the image of the characters in my mind. It just feels a little… jarring? 😶

3) Girl in a gown.

Was it Kiera Cass’s The Selection that set off this trend? Regardless, this is an extra turn off when the story has nothing to do with girls being in gowns. 💃

4) Public displays of affection.

Hugs and embraces I’m totally on board with, but for some reason I’m just not into covers where the characters are kissing. I assume it’s because like nudity, it immediately sets a tone for the kind of book you’re reading, and while it’s probably hypocritical to say this, I don’t want to be broadcasting that to the world. 🙃

5) Seemingly explicit scenes.

Have other books screamed sex as loud as books with explicit-ish scenes on their cover? Not in my experience. 🔥

6) Too much, too soon.

OK, this probably has more to do with the back cover-slash-blurb rather than the front cover, but a blurb that tells me everything in two paragraphs? It’s just too much, too soon; I’d rather keep the mystery alive for a little bit longer. 😅

7) Repeated stock images.

Look, I get it: it can be really hard to find stock images that fit your book, let alone find one that’s within your price range… but still. If I see the same stock image being used in multiple books and it’s not manipulated to look the slightest bit different, it makes it hard to distinguish between those books. 😩

8) Unsuitable fonts.

Designs have really picked up in the last, say, eight years so I think we see less and less of this now, but there’s a time and place for everything, even fonts. Using Comic Sans MS for a fantasy novel, for example, just feels a bit out of place. It just doesn’t get the “tone” of the book right. 🙈

9) Movie adaptation covers.

I don’t know if this is just like an initial bias against movie adaptations, but the original book covers almost always look better to me. I especially don’t like it when it’s super full-on movie-like (think movie posters, with the characters all standing in model-pose). 🤔

10) Muscled men.

Must they all be similarly fit — muscles bulging and all that? It just feels unrealistic to me. 😂

What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments! 💁

113 thoughts on “Top Ten Book Cover Turn-Offs

  1. I don’t mind most of these but face close-ups and the repeated stock images are cover turn-offs for me too! Especially the face close-ups because they almost never fit how I image the character either. I remember that being my first thought when I read Vampire Academy, how the cover model doesn’t fit Rose at all. Having face close-ups on books that don’t really fit the character seems to happen a lot. I’d rather an abstract cover without anyone on it to be honest lol. Great picks for this week, Reg!! 😊


    • Yeees, I prefer abstract covers too compared to face close-ups! I also feel like they’re less… outdated? Like face close-ups seem like a trend that probably won’t become a classic, whereas abstract or very simple covers (think those Penguin orange ones) tend to feel more “modern” regardless of time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my god YES at all of these especially the awkward muscled men/nudity ones. NO THANK YOU 🙅🏻🙅🏻 As a wannabe designer the font one irks me so much – especially when the colours clash or it’s unreadable. I also had no idea just how repeated that stock image was 😂


  3. Omg the biggest reason I can’t seem to pick up New Adult or Romance books is the amount of nudity/half-nudity/sexy vibe on the cover. It’s probably just my awkward self, but even looking at them here makes me cringe. 😅


    • HAHA I totally get it. I’ll be honest, I flip the cover back SO QUICKLY so I don’t have to look at them for far too long. They make me feel kind of awkward… not to the point of cringing, but just kind of awkward. 😂


  4. Basically YES to every single point! I am so glad YA covers have started to feature more artwork and cool typography rather than the girl in the gown or PDAs (which I feel was EVERYWHERE a few years ago?). I love me a beautiful and creative cover.


  5. Lol, this is hilarious! My jaw dropped when I saw the examples of the same stock photo being used. I agree with the use of the half-naked muscled men, mostly because I know that the male characters (and therefore, the female characters) are very likely to fall into traditional “romance” gender roles that make me want to bang my head on the table. I hate the helpless female/alpha male thing. I’m always so excited to find books with romantic relationships that don’t fall prey to that pattern.

    Definitely going to be on the lookout for some of these during my next book store visit!


  6. I agree. I get so tired of looking at half naked people on book covers….. I just want to yell at them “Put some clothes on!” haha


  7. I totally agree with you on the movie covers. They never look better than the original, and it already sets the tone for the story the way the directors saw it. I prefer the original covers, because they still leave some elements as a mystery, and give you a free permission to imagine characters and situations the way you want it. Also, the book is a separate thing from the movie, in my opinion even more important than the movie. When they change the cover, it’s sort of saying, “hey, we think the movie is better than the book.”


    • That’s it! I tend to not be a super visual reader and I prefer it that way – it’s nice to have the characters live in my head, and casting makes it too real, almost, so movie covers tend to not be my favourite. I don’t really think that movie cover changes say that the movie is better than the book necessarily, but I generally just prefer the original book covers. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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