Generic racy book covers
It seems the branding buzzwords du jour are ‘fast followers’, in reference to the Samsung / Apple design copycat-ing court case. This summer we have also read quite enough about Fifty Shades of Grey. Dull, dull, dull. To sum up most of the design related banter – by packaging schlocky ‘erotica’ in covers that don’t feature a cheesy, generic porn image, women will suddenly feel liberated to read it on the tube, making it a big hit. Surely this argument is weakened by the fact that we now all know exactly what said woman is reading on the tube. The fact is, we just don’t care.
Nevertheless, in the book’s successful wake, here come the fast following copycats – interchangeable designs for interchangeable content. It follows the basic ‘if you like X, you’ll also like Y’ approach.
I think this is an own goal by the publishers. Because here is a genre that has suddenly been given an opportunity to really ‘break out’ via design that elevates the category. Classy porn is nothing new. Phaidons new box set of 500 design classics features Eros, an early 60s, ‘subscription only’, periodical for gents who liked their porn well packaged. There are plenty of other examples. In my day Henry Miller’s racy novels had classy covers you could sneak past your mum. Or so a mate told me.
My point being that this golden age for ‘mummy porn’ could also be a golden age for design that makes it go truly mainstream. Instead the fast followers are creating a new generic design language which signals ‘I am reading a mucky book’ just as obviously as the cheesy old covers ever did.