Yesterday I wrote about the rumor that Salinger demanded that his books have no cover images, and I said that I wished more authors did that.
I got an e-mail from Monica Fambrough of Seattle-area poetry book publisher Wave Books. She says:
Wave Books has stated design parameters that we don't allow representational imagery on our covers: no pictures, drawings of people, animals, etc. We ask our designers to find design solutions that involve creative uses of color and text. The results aren't always as simple as the Salinger covers, but they do make for an interesting, and I think lovely, set of books.
The reason she states for this decision is "...we don't want readers to see the poems as either literal or arbitrary, and images on the cover (a swan on the cover of a book called "The Swan," or a shoe on the cover of a book called "The Swan" might lead readers to think of the language as either literal or arbitrary.)"
I completely agree. I think that a bad photo on a cover can almost kill a book for me. I hate it when some cover artist (who probably didn't read the entire book) destroys my image of a main character before it can even be formed. And, perhaps because book jacket designers don't understand them, poetry books often just have completely junk covers, as with Emily Warn's book that I put up on Reading Tonight this morning. I wish more publishers would follow Wave Books' lead.