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Erotic E-Book Covers: An Overview

So, I acquired some motivation, recently, and I’ve been looking at e-book covers.

It’s a delicate balance–the book needs to stand out, but not too much. It needs to imply a tone and entice the reader, but everyone’s tastes are different.

I’ve noticed several different trends.




You can tell that someone gave the artist a blurb and let them run wild and free through the artistic meadows.  ”It’s got threesomes, and it’s set in space, huh? Let me see what I can do.” I’d like to think this is all freebie work from someone’s wayward cousin, but actual “publishing companies” produce these things, too.


The Totally Phoned-in Porn Cover



Do I need to explain this one?

I can’t believe what people get away with on Amazon, sometimes.


The Fifty Shades of Gray Rip-off




There are a bunch of these. Many include masks and/or ribbons, and another big chunk are shoes.  If the designer is feeling particularly daring, it’ll be some mildly off-putting object.  If it’s really, really full of “BDSM,” and someone has to call someone else ‘Sir’ or there’s light spanking, there might be cuffs or something.

But, usually not.  It’s not in the “tee hee hee” spirit of the thing.


The “Body Parts Imply Sex” Cover



A huge, huge number of these types of covers feature lonely, beheaded male torsos, which is both awesome and kind of creepy.

Some readers are only in it for the ripped pecs, people. The Female Gaze lives on.

There’s another sizable percentage of female legs in heels or the top half of a woman’s blindfolded face.


The “Hot People Have Better Sex” Cover



This is easily the most popular format for “erotic romance” covers.  Models + color wash + gradiant fades = “hot.” I assume they sell well.

The fun thing there is that the heroines of these books are almost universally described “girl next door” types.


Business on the top, party on the bottom, aka The Doctor Jeckyll and Mister Hyde Cover

These are, for the most part, “erotic suspense” books.


I don’t know why the horn picture exists, but you can’t expect me to not use it in a post. I’m only human.

Sometimes it’s the guy on the top, the woman on the bottom. Sometimes it’s a cityscape on top, and a couple of the bottom. In general, you know that there’s probably going to be a chase scene and maybe some hacking.

Did I miss any?

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  1. Annabel
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I don’t… The horn photo… Mmmkay… WTFFFFF?

    Love this post. I want to visit Mantitty City.

    • Joan
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      The original horn pic makes even less sense. I think maybe it’s a blowjob joke? I hope?!

  2. Salome Wilde
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous post.

    My addition would be the Photoshop Double Trouble that takes two images of “sexy” m or f models photoshopped beside one another with generic background (beach, city, etc.).

    • Joan
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Ohhhhh. Good call.

  3. Lily
    Twitter: MsLilyLloyd
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    One of the things I discovered: the book cover has to be legible in that tiny, postage stamp size image of the cover that shows up in Amazon’s search results. Which is why book covers have such big text and are so visually simple now: people need to read the title when it’s tiny.

    So, onward into the Bauhaus Book Cover? What would Gropius do?!

    • Joan
      Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Off to shrink my cover, and see…

  4. Alison Tyler
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    There are also the double and triple covers. The ones that feature art that has been used before. I’ve shared images with the best of them—with Portia Da Costa, Saskia Walker, Sasha White…. Sometimes the pictures are flipped or colorized or tipped or dipped. But I am always so thrilled when a publisher lands on a unique cover for one of my books.

    Love your post, btw. Love it love it love it!


    • Joan
      Posted March 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I’ve run across repeats. I’m all… wait… I’ve seen this lady with a finger on her chin before!

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    [...] Defers provides an overview of erotic e-Book [...]

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