As a publisher, I am ALWAYS looking at book covers. I go into bricks and mortar bookstores to look specifically at book designs and browse the online stores to do the same. I try to find out what the trends are, what sells and what doesn’t.
A genre of book that is very popular is Young Adult paranormal – your basic Twilight type of stories. Vampires, witches, death, supernatural powers, dystopian societies – all those. They’re generally great books with interesting characters and a chance for readers to escape. I am drawn to their covers because for the overwhelming majority, the covers are of one young woman in a terribly beautiful dress – the kind little girls dream about. More and more, we’re seeing these women, not in positions of strength, but as victims of some sort; splayed out on the ground, drowning in water, etc. It’s disturbing, but we’re drawn to it.
I ran across a great blog post that discusses the social commentary much better than I ever could, so I’m posting a link here. If you’re interested in book trends, especially in Young Adult, go check out Rachel Stark’s post at her blog.