HelenKay Dimon has posted an interesting article at Access Romance about the publishers that she likes. The ones she’s loyal to because they’ve delivered good books in the past and that she’ll take a second look at just because of who they are. An interesting concept raised by Ms. Dimon’s post is branding, both across the line itself and with the authors.
Avon has created a brand with its historicals. They might not have pioneered the stepback cover, but their books are strongly associated with them. It’s interesting that they are now moving back toward the clinch cover. Almost all chick lit books, regardless of publisher, are branded with the same size (trade), color (pastel, usually pink tones – take a look at a bunch of chick lit spines), cartoon like figure of a woman or some other object. No manly chests or heaving bosoms.
I find that Berkeley/Signet romances have a tighter binding, makeing the books appear shorter. Avon’s binding is much looser, causing the pages to fan even when the span hasn’t been cracked.
Each brand generates a certain emotive response. Romance Lover has a love/hate relationship with Avon (look at the tagline to her blog). I have a friend who won’t buy Avon books. It’s a matter of principle for her and I’ve only known her to break that decision once. Yet, another reader posted at AAR that she likes Avon and is more apt to buy them. When looking at category secret baby/cowboy/millionaire doctor covers, I get a general feeling of nausea.
Harlequin, in its Luna and Red Dress Ink lines, has done a good job of picking a certain tone for its covers and within its covers. The Luna line delivers some type of fantasy/sci fi romance. Red Dress Ink delivers a book with a heroine who is generally in her late 20s, early 30s with a smart wit and a hot sidekick.
Author’s themselves have brands in terms of titles that help a reader identify subsequent books amongst the sea of new paperbacks: Evanovich’s # series, Sue Grafton’s letter series, MJD’s Undead, James’ Shakespeare titles, Balogh’s Slightly and Simply series. Charlaine Harris’ covers for the Sookie Stackhouse are very distinctive with the dark blue/gray cover and the Sticks like cartoon on the front.
What brands stick out in your mind? Do some work better than others? Is a brand easier to recognize within across the line or with just one author. Does the similarity in marketing tactics frustrate and confuse you?