Two weeks ago, I had a signing at Posman’s Books in Grand Central Station, and as I chatted with Stacey Agdern, the romance expert there, I noticed something really interesting on the shelves. Posman’s has a small romance section, but for its size, it’s amazingly diverse and well-stocked – mostly thank to Stacey, who is kickass as a bookseller and as a romance advocate. Because of the smallness of the section, most of the books were displayed spine-out, and this is where I noticed that Avon was doing something REALLY cool. Have a look. (NB: I apologize for the somewhat lame quality of some of the pics.)
See how Lavinia Kent’s titles pretty much jump off the shelf and grab you? Look at how much of the spine is taken up by cover art.
The image is almost 3/4ths of the spine – and it’s REALLY eye catching when you look at a lineup of book spines, isn’t it? I think that is SO smart. Especially when you compare to the display of book spines on a huge shelf FULL of romance.
Some spines, like Julie James’ books on the left, have a small slightly-bigger-than-a-postage-stamp image of the cover. But Avon is making part of the cover image the dominant part of the spine—which to me was very eye-catching, such as with the Samantha James book, pictured here.
Sometimes it’s not always half or 3/4ths, but the increased image size, as with Marjorie Liu’s Avon books, is still appealing to look at. Compare the Avon books (pink insignia at the top) to one of her older Dorchester titles (no pink insignia at the top of the spine) on the shelf here.
This shot also highlights the difference – on the right are the older books, and on the left are the Eloisa James books with the majority of the spine being used for the art. Now, I’m definitely one of those readers who remembers the art more than the title (sorry, librarians of the world, I am indeed *that patron*) so this helps me immeasurably.
I remember from photography classes that discussed composition of images that faces, and skin as well, draw the eye more than anything else (which is why, as an aside, one should not necessarily have format portraits taken in short sleeves, as the face and the upper arm compete for viewer attention). Since so many romance covers feature faces and skin (ahem), to feature so much of of both on the spine is great reader-discovery strategy. With the art featuring people often larger than the words on the spine, these books stand out in a HUGE way.
I think this is SO smart, especially since shelf space, if you even have a bookstore to shop in to begin with, is dwindling. The limited real estate of the spine is being used with a much more effective style here, and I have to say, mad props to you, Avon. Way to stand out.