The secrets of covering a well stocked library
September 5, 2019 9:20 AM   Subscribe

“Man in Fog” delivers exactly what the title promises—a shadowy figure, noir to the grayscale bone, smoking a pipe in the inky foreground. An image like “Man in Fog” can be quite evocative, Morrison said, until you start seeing it everywhere. “And the more I looked, the more books featuring it I found,” he said. “This would have been around 20 years ago. It was only when I started blogging, very late in the day, that I had an outlet to inflict this on other people.”
posted by gusottertrout (11 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
What a fun exploration. Thanks for posting it!
posted by readinghippo at 9:45 AM on September 5, 2019

Oh man. Now I'm going to start looking for the same images on different book covers! I hope he has gotten at least some compensation from Getty for these. I can't tell from the article if he is unhappy about it or just bemused. I'm leaning toward the latter.
posted by yoga at 9:49 AM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The cozy Amish romances do this constantly. There's a limited stock of wistful Amish girl pictures, so the same three faces tend to cycle around. Also, horse drawn carriages.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:59 AM on September 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Romance novels in general have a lot of cover overlap, especially in contemporaries. The indie authors have no budget for non-stock covers, and there are only so many shirtless men who could totally be billionaires to go around. Probably more of those than stock photos of Amish girls, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:20 AM on September 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

cozy Amish romances

I did not know this was a thing and now I want to know more.
posted by Drab_Parts at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I did not know this was a thing and now I want to know more.

Harlequin has a whole line called "Love Inspired" that features a large number of Amish titles.

Speaking for his own design work, Wilder said that stock images come into play when a book cover concept would be best served by a photographic element or illustration, but time or budget constraints don’t allow for a photographer or illustrator to be commissioned on the project.

I once worked for a company where the global office did professional group and individual photos for company in various professional environments for use as royalty-free stock photography, so there were people who volunteered for these who kept seeing themselves appearing in various places like digital signage, marketing collateral, on the company website and intranet, etc. over and over again.

OTOH, they really should have been paid extra for sitting for these, because the company was saving money on stock photos.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:29 AM on September 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I do book covers as a side thing, mostly paranormal romance, and I see the same cover models all. the. time. That's why I tend to chop the heads off the models unless the author requests differently: none of this "It's so the reader can imagine their own preferred love interest!" stuff, it's so the reader is paying attention to the rest of the cover and the title, not going "Oh, hey, he was a billionaire last week, a hockey player the week before, and now he's a griffin!"
posted by telophase at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

This is no different than using clip art for novelty socks. It is cheap and quick.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:48 PM on September 5, 2019

That's why I tend to chop the heads off the models unless the author requests differently

Holy crap, is THAT why their heads are cut off?! I couldn't really understand why that was such a trend in romance, but now it makes perfect sense. I think my stock photo searches are about to get a whole lot easier.
posted by mittens at 12:50 PM on September 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

Holy crap, is THAT why their heads are cut off?!

Occasionally it's because you get this bodybuilder who's really stacked and perfect for a cover in the genre you're aiming at, but who has either a baby face when the main character is supposed to be in their 30s or 40s, or who has the Goofiest Expression Evar and you can't find a good head to 'shop onto them unobtrusively. (Some people don't worry about making it unobtrusive. I do.)

I also 'shop wings onto kittens and get paid to do so. I love my (side) job.
posted by telophase at 2:42 PM on September 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

I went to grad school with a guy who came up with one of the early PPT slide design templates, a successful one that you’ve seen at some point, or maybe hundreds or thousands of times, depending. He leaned toward bemused about it, said it was just something that he did quickly and professionally. He doesn’t get any $$$ on an ongoing basis, of course, but he muttered something to me once about wishing he would have taken a little more time with it, given how often he’s had to sit staring at it during meetings.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:55 PM on September 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

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