Cover Contest 2003
(Blythe Barnhill, Ballot Chair)
Worst is my baby. For some reason I just really enjoy wallowing in the bad, and discovering the new and different ways that covers can be horrible. This year’s slate featured distorted, scary cartoon covers and old-fashioned clinch excess. But we’ve also seen a new development in bad covers this year—a type of cover I like to call the “surreal acid trip” cover. Silhouette Intimate Moments took this idea and ran with it in 2003, presenting their readers with a slew of blurry, out-of-focus covers, sometimes with large, translucent objects (like baby heads and daisies) floating above them. Only one of them (A Kiss in the Dark) was on the ballot, but many were nominated. It’s definitely a worst trend to watch.
We used to see more complaints about the worst category, but at this point most people seem to enjoy having a good laugh over them. Readers know that the quality of the cover has nothing to do with what’s written inside, and indeed many readers seem to feel the most anger when they loved the book but hated its cover. Often they feel that the author deserved much, much better, and they fear that other readers might overlook a great book because of its horrible packaging. To the authors who had to endure these monstrosities, we can only say we’re sorry and hope that you are laughing along with us (and that the art department does better by you next time).
Our winner was so far ahead of the competition that the race wasn’t even close. We like our covers romantic, and we like our covers sexy. But no one wants their cover to look like porn. Flavor of the Month didn’t just hint “porn”—it screamed it. And voters screamed back. Esri’s comments were echoed by many: “