The Value of the Cover Art in Romance Sells

Perhaps no publisher taps into amorous fantasies as thoroughly as Harlequin, which over more than six decades has become synonymous with romance. The Toronto-based company, founded in 1949, publishes about 110 fiction and non-fiction titles per month in 31 languages and is one of the leading publishers of books for women. The content of these romance novels can be as fantastic as their covers, which feature a fair share of windswept heroes (yes, Fabio) and heated embraces. As society’s views on gender and sex have evolved, so has Harlequin’s cover art, going from vaguely suggestive to unabashedly erotic over the decades. “Love may be essential to the narratives inside these books but it is lust that is imaged on the covers,” states a company history. Margie Miller, Harlequin’s creative art director, says readers “want to feel uplifted, lifted and carried out of their own lives. Not that their lives are bad, but it’s a happiness hit.” The covers are designed to help transport them.

To read the complete article and to see how Harlequin’s romance covers have evolved over the years, visit Bloomberg Businessweek at They are really quite spectacular. There is also a link for Harlequin’s most memorable covers. You’ll enjoy seeing how much has changed and how much has stayed the same.

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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2 Responses to The Value of the Cover Art in Romance Sells

  1. suzan says:

    I don’t like the lustful covers too much personally. I still want to look at the link you have posted. I like the cover to reflect the story in some way. At least have the main characters features similar on the cover or the scenery or something. Lots of times I’ve seen that the main heroine has lets say brown hair in the story and bright blond on the cover etc. It just turns me off. I want to be able to take my book off the bookshelf and be reminded of the plot or the characters or the story in some way and not have them all look alike. Just a personal preference of course. I’m sure the art itself is amazing in the aspect that I can’t draw a thing…I’m not artistically gifted in the least.

  2. I used to teach a unit in school (YEARS BEFORE I THOUGHT ABOUT PUBLISHING) and I talked about the disconnect between the author and the hired illustrator (especially in children’s books). The unit was based around multicultural literature. For example, there’s a book called “Dancing Tepees.” It is a book of poetry written by Native American children, but “Indian” stereotypes pepper the cover art and the inside illustrations.

    As for the cover, it doesn’t always SELL me on the book. Sometimes, it’s a turn off.

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