Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cloth Book Covers - An Open Letter to Vicki Lewis Thompson


Aloha, Vicki Lewis Thompson!

This week I received the Romance Writers' Report, November 2012, Volume 32, Number 13.   I enjoyed your article, "Keeping the R in RWA."   I appreciated your candor in describing yourself as "your worst English-major, cultural snob nightmare" before you discovered romance.   But I do take exception for your discussion of book covers,

How many of you remember the hot item for sale at most conventions around the country 20 or 30 years ago?  Cloth book covers.  Maybe these were to protect the covers of our mass-market paperbacks from potential damage, but methinks not.  Methinks it was so we could take a romance to the dentist's office without being embarrassed to be seen reading one of those books.

I haven't seen any mass market paperback book cover for sale in a while, so maybe we've outgrown them.  I hope so ....

I discovered romance ten years ago while volunteering at the  US Thrift Shop in the Netherlands.  I took those books on the bus tours with the NATO ladies.  They asked me, in broken English, where to buy those books.  



When I moved back to the US, I  attended my first RT conference in Daytona Beach/2006.   I was delighted to find cloth book covers for mass market and trade size paperbacks from Hidden Secrets Book Covers (at this link).   I see Bob each year at RT ... and I add another book cover to my collection.  The best part - Bob is retired Navy - you can never go wrong with the Navy!


Bookcover Sizing for paperback and hardback book covers

Here's my favorite cover - the tropical theme to keeps me in the Aloha spirit.  


Here's my trade size book cover ... the pandas are happy readers!  



Here's my Kindle cover with the Hawaiian theme ... hubby bought it at a craft fair.


I often receive compliments from people in line for bringing reading material.  They even ask what I am reading.   Methinks the cloth book cover attracts attention to the books, leaving others to wonder what is so valuable that requires protection.

Mahalo,

Kim in Hawaii

Do you read in public?  Are you concerned with the cover art?  Do you use cloth book covers?  One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash.   This giveaway is open to all readers.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 24, 10 pm in Hawaii.   I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 25.



41 comments:

  1. Considering that I buy books based on their cover art, I'm not ashamed to be seen with them, and the hot, shirtless guys, in public. Besides, I get weirder looks when I read YA or children's books in public.

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  2. Yes, I always read on the subway, the bus and at work.

    My one boss would stop by my desk and flip over the book and would let me the if the cover was a yea or nah.

    I have several book covers which I still have,

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  3. I do have some cloth book covers that I use when necessary. I use them at school to keep the kids from knowing what book I am reading. Sometimes I have to stay late for meetings and I read if I am caught up or burned out for the day.

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  4. I don't often read in public and I never bother with book covers when I do. I've never owned any.

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  5. I have two cloth book covers that I've never used. I love some of the cover art of books and love to show it off. I am not at all embarassed to show off whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. Sometimes in the doctor offices there will be three or four of us ladies sitting in the waiting room reading a book and we will chat to each other about what book we are reading or someone will see the front cover and ask what the other is reading. I see no reason to hide it.

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  6. I always take a book to read when I go to the Doctors. I'm not embarrassed at all about the covers. In fact, my Primary Care Doctor always chuckles when he see's the current book that I'm reading.

    I didn't know that cloth book covers were available. I might get a couple for my granddaughter, as she loves her books, and always takes care of them.

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  7. When I read in public, it's typically on my Kindle, for convenience's sake. Sometimes--don't tell!--I'm actually doing crossword puzzles, and not reading on my Kindle.

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  8. I read in public a lot. I can't seem to stop myself from reading inside the car or on a ferry boat.

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  9. I have an iPad and tons of ebooks on it....many romance. I have a red leather cover around my iPad to protect it, not the books I read :-)
    Warmly, Lindsay Mckenna

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  10. I read everywhere, but I've never used cloth bookcovers.

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  11. I have a pretty cloth cover with sunflowers that was given as a gift years ago but don't use it. I'm not ashamed of sexy covers! I would use it to protect the cover not hide them.

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  12. I had completely forgotten about cloth book covers, I think they are due for a comeback. I always read in public, sometimes it's a paperback and some times I read on my phone, my kindle is linked. My sons doctor always asks what I'm reading even if I don't have a book visible. She knows me too well, lol

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  13. I read any and everywhere and no I don't cover my books.

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  14. I've never used cloth book covers -- but I have been tempted a few times for some of the older, "bodice-ripper" style covers from the late 70's through the early 90's. Yeah, the guy was hot and studly, but I really have no desire to check out her bared and heaving bosom. I did once fall into the assumption that the lady reading a paperback with a book cover on it was reading a romance. When I asked her what the title was, I was surprised to see it was a true-crime novel. We conversed some more and I learned that she used book covers to protect her books.

    However, I can understand the appeal of book covers -- they help the reader avoid being hassled by another person because of their choice of genre to read. I read romances while in uniform. I used to get teased by some of my fellow soldiers and civilian co-workers because they were romances. I got fed up with the attitudes and resolved to change. Instead of letting myself be embarrassed by my reading choice, I politely went on the "attack." If I sensed they were negatively inclined towards the genre, I would pin them down and ask why they didn't like it. Or I would ask them why they thought it was okay to denigrate my reading choice, when I never did the same to theirs (if they even bothered to read, that is) and had they ever met a dedicated reader of the romance genre who was prone to insult another genre? Additionally I would point out that the romance genre is consistently the highest selling genre and that if the books were all so bad, then why did the genre outsell all other genres, year after year? Generally, I would get an embarrassed, foot-shuffling reaction to my questions. I think I might have even made a few people reconsider their attitudes. At the very least, they never hassled me again about what I was reading. So for me, my "in-their-face" attitude created a win-win situation for me.

    Now when it comes to erotic romance, especially the trade paperbacks, I often choose not to read them in uniform. One, unlike mass market paperbacks, trades don't fit in the cargo pockets of my uniform trousers, so I can't easily transport them and have them at hand, ready to be read whenever I have a spare moment. Two, the covers are often more graphically sensual/erotic than mass market paperbacks. I have to weigh the visual content of the cover against the military's expected conduct and behavior standards, of which I am a representative of at all times, but even more so while in uniform. I can affect the way a person sees the military, simply by behaving a certain way while I'm wearing my uniform.

    Now that there are apps that allow me to read books on my smartphone, I can indulge in reading erotic romance while in uniform. However, I don't go out of my way to advertise what the content is, due to the whole perception thing.

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  15. Oh, that reminds me that I had a leather cover for my books back when I worked in the '70's and early '80's. But I did it to protect my books from snow and rain etc. I have never hidden my covers.

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  16. I read all the time. I don't have a Kindle or other e reading device so I tend to carry a paperback. I'm more cautious what I take when I'm heading to pick the girls up from school (elementary age great nieces) but since it isn't so hot now I sit in the car and read until almost time for the bell. Other than there if I think to grab the current book I'm reading I will just read it. It's much easier to pass the time reading than watching HLN or CNN in the military hospital while waiting for an appointment lol.

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  17. I often read in public. Now, I always carry my IPod with me, so I have it handy to read (Kindle books) if I have to wait somewhere. I used to take books with me when I'c go to the doctor or dentist. I'm not generally concerned about the cover art, though I always dislike the thought of someone judging what I'm reading, based on their perception of the genre. A lot of people look down on science fiction and romance, both of which I've read in public.

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  18. I read in public, but I'm afraid I always take my kindle. Before that, I read whatever I wanted in public, and didn't worry about covers. Don't get me wrong, attractive cover art always catches my attention. Heck, in the long run, it's why I am a writer (that's a very long story), but at the same time, with the kindle, nobody sees that cover. In a way it's a shame. But people do still ask what I'm reading from time to time. :) and like jmcgaugh, I read both sci fi and romance.

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  19. I do read in public, but it's mostly during lunch if I have time. I would love to read during the commute, but the subways and buses are too crowded to even whip out a book.

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  20. I do read books in public but I don't use a cover. However, I am mindful of the books I do read in public. If the cover is too racy, I won't take it to a public place where there's children. I agree with you though, I believe book covers draw more attention. People, including myself, want to know what kind of book you're reading that you have to hide it.

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  21. I read in public but I don't use a cover unless it's my own book. I am picky about keeping my books neat and tidy. I read a lot of books from library and I don't use a cover for those.

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  22. I do read in public and I never worry about the cover art. If someone doesn't like it, they can just stop looking at me. :D A lot of the time lately I'm reading on my iPhone anyway, so no one really knows what I'm doing.

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  23. I have never used cloth book covers. I like to read in public because I love it and I'm not concerned about people. I read what I like. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  24. I do read in public and usually don't mind exposing the covers. But, my 15 year old daughter gets embarrassed.

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  25. I have never used cloth covers but definitely would consider it if only to protect the book. I have been careful about what I take to read in public or on the job and admit to having been embarrassed when coworkers have teased me in the past. Having an e-reader definitely cuts down on problem but I tend to not pay close attention to covers.

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  26. I read in public all the time. I do have a mass market sized cloth cover, but I use it to protect my covers when I throw them in my bags. I always proudly tell whoever asks that I am reading a romance novel, then generally go on to describe the basics of the story, and if it is a series &/or author that I have read before.

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  27. Lvev Vicki books, I don't cover it
    Kimh

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  28. I did use the cloth book covers for a while and I do have a few really nice ones. However, I find that leaving the cover off allows other people to see what I read. That has helped me to make some new friends! Its amazing how many really nice people read historical romance!

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  29. I was actually thinking of making some covers to protect my books when I'm out & about. I don't mind if people see what I read.

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  30. Yes I read in public; I read any & everywhere. I didn't even know there were such things as cloth book covers; i wrap my books in clear plastic. What a shame to cover up the glorious art on the covers with cloth!

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  31. No, I'm not read in public, I'm feel dizzy reading in car.

    Yes, I often buy book because cover, especailly recently cover book, all is amazing.

    Just got vicky lewis's book fron my friend and this is the first time I will read her book :)

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  32. I never knew such things existed, unless you count bible covers which seem to be about the same thing.
    I always have a book with me, cover out there for all to see. It is fun to see people trying to look at the cover, and those that just ask about what I am reading. A good conversation starter.

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  33. Kim, I'm thrilled you're blogging about this! Your covers are gorgeous, and I can understand why you love them. But I have to say, as an author, I love imagining someone reading my book in public without any covers, both because it seems like a liberated act and because I (shamelessly) like the promo. :-)

    Thanks for bringing up this apparently still hot topic!

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  34. Hi Kim!

    I used to use book covers for my books but not to hide the cover! I used them to keep the cover in tact and looking the same as the day I bought it!

    I love your Kindle book cover! I'd love to get a pink one and glue it to my Kindle so my husband would stop taking it to read especially when I'm in the middle of a story!

    I always carry either a book or my Kindle with me no matter where I go. I don't know about everyone else but it makes long waits at a docter's office or in a grocery line much easier to tolerate - especially around the hoidays! You would't believe the number of people who ask me what I'm reading and why I like the author! Now I think of it as a public service to share my favorite authors and the love of rading to others.

    I love the cover art on books and it's probably one of the things that atracts the attention of all the people that end up asking me about what I'm reading!

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  35. Yes, i do read in public, the long queue, or long waits at a doctor's office, in MRT, bus stop..almost everywhere..:)

    i've never used a cloth book covers before, since i don't have yet. lol..and still i don't mind with the cover, people did ask me sometimes, but hey, that's my book, and i'm enjoying it :D

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  36. I am conscious of what the book cover looks like if I am going to be reading in public - some of them are pretty spicy. So if I'm going to be reading in public, like I'll be in a waiting room for a while, I may be a different book that has a more innocuous cover. Those covers are a great idea!

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  37. I read in public all the time(waiting at the doctor's office, the post office, the mechanic). I don't care who sees what I'm reading. I've never thought about book covers, but I think they're a great idea to protect the book not hide what you read.

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  38. When my kids were young I did read in public more and, while there were many covers that are lovely, there are some covers that I just wasn't going to show at a kids sporting event so book covers would have been nice for those situations.

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  39. I used to have some covers, but misplaced them. I read in waiting rooms and don't usually mind the covers.
    marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  40. I always have a book with me and will read in public. No, I'm not concerned about the cover art. I have leather covers for my Nook and Kindle, but don't have any cloth covers for my paper books. Thanks for the link - I think I'll go shopping!

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  41. I read in public. Don't use covers

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