Book By Legal Scholar Gets the Chick Lit Cover Treatment

Illustration for article titled Book By Legal Scholar Gets the Chick Lit Cover Treatment

The Divorce Papers, by Susan Rieger, which was first released in hardcover by Random House this past March, is a fantastic book that traces the protagonist's high-profile divorce through a modern-day paper trail of emails, office memos, and legal documents. This is Rieger's first novel, which she published following a distinguished law career that included 10 years as the dean of Ezra Stiles College at Yale. Critics called The Divorce Papers a "brilliantly constructed" and "extremely clever" piece of work.

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The original cover featured a woman with a stack of paperwork and a pink backdrop; the paperback, due out Oct. 28, looks like this:

Illustration for article titled Book By Legal Scholar Gets the Chick Lit Cover Treatment
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Writers don't have much say in how their work is marketed, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that a 67-year-old legal scholar didn't get a chance to nix this fluffy tween dream mess of a cover.

Women buy more books than men, and it's a well-known, oft-lamented fact that female authors—especially first-time authors who haven't yet "proven" themselves capable of appealing to both genders—are frequently given covers that say more about the publisher's target consumer (and disturbingly fossilized take on what might attract said female consumer) than about the book's actual content. Which, in this case, is excellent. I only wish Rieger's publishing house took her readers as seriously as critics took The Divorce Papers.

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DISCUSSION

I hate this so much and I know many of the authors I follow on Twitter feel the same way. Covers are such a crap shoot but covers like this are so fucking damaging. This reminds me of Maureen Johnson's incredible Cover Flip project where she invited people to make covers with the gender of the author flipped. It was so enlightening and proves that publishing is still very backwards when it comes to gender.