Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cover Flip

I follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter for a couple reasons:

1- I love her books. They have a fresh writing style and a twist is always coming. They keep you on your toes and laughing every so often, which is nice. Which brings me to #2
2- She is funny. 'nough said.
3- She is a writer I wanna be a writer, so I follow other writers. They like to talk about bookish things and general publishing industry info.

A few weeks ago she posted about book covers and started a small contest. Here's what she said:

...And let’s have a CONTEST! It’s called COVERFLIP. It works like this.
1. Take a well-known book. (It’s up to you to define well-known.)
2. Imagine that book was written by an author of the OPPOSITE GENDER. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think GIRL book or BOY book or GENDERLESS book (do they EXIST?). And I’m not saying that these categorizations are RIGHT—but make no mistake, they’re there. 
Well people went nuts for it:
It got a lot of coverage. First in the United States, the article went slightly supernova on HuffPo, becoming one of the top articles on the site. Lots of other places started sharing the link (or mentioning it). It turned up on Jezebel, and the USATodayBooks page, and on The New Yorker site, The Rumpus, and onWired.com. In the UK, people started really talking about it quite a lot. I missed two emails from the BBC that came while I was sleeping asking me to speak on Radio Scotland and the Newshour (a UK author did the piece, as I was too late for the time difference). There were two pieces in the Daily Mailincluding one in which Jacqueline Wilson (the grande dame of middle grade and YA in the UK) called for an end to the genderized covers. There were two in the Guardian, and the amazing Katy Brand wrote about it for The TelegraphJacqueline Wilson came back swinging even harder in The Telegraph.

She also said this:
Coverflip’s ultimate goal is to show that books have no gender. Let’s stop pre-determining what’s for boys and what’s for girls. And it aims to do this by playing around with the cover image to show that covers are simply covers, and you can switch them around and change perception in a heartbeat. The media is not going to fix this. And publishers can’t really fix it. It’s up to readers. To paraphrase John and Yoko, “Gendered books are over, if you want it.”
Go into a store and really LOOK at how the books are sorted, what labels they’re put under. Those labels are not accidental, and they’re not always that accurate (especially in big stores). What’s in fiction? What’s in “Women’s Fiction”? What’s in “Urban Fiction”? Put some covers side to side and really have a good long SQUINT to try to see what it is you’re being told and sold. Tyr out something new, something that sounds like it might be good, but has a cover you don’t feel is meant for you.
And if you don’t like the cover, take it off or make a new one! It’s YOUR BOOK.
Also, write to/tweet at publishers and TELL THEM what you think!
Do a Coverflip in your classroom! Post the results! If kids can’t do the art, have them write about it. Teachers have already started doing this, some in just 40 minute periods, and are getting some amazing results.
Mix up those displays. Do a BLANK COVER table. Give kids something you know they’d like, but might be afraid to be seen reading. Set a coverflip challenge!
The covers change when the feedback changes. So, change the conversation, change the cover.
My mom and I started talking about many of our favorite books and the covers they could have if we cover flipped them and also about books that came out with one cover in hard back the had a different--sometimes gender stereotyped for the paperback version and how the first was a more fitting representation on the story. But what do you think? What are your favorite covers and why? What cover would you want to flip? 

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