Covers of Lovers: A Multimodal Comparison of the Front Covers of Romance Novels in 2011 and 2021
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This thesis explores how romance book covers—as multimodal media—have changed between 2011 and 2021, specifically due to the influence of digital advancements. It makes use of multimodal theory as proposed by Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen in Multimodal Discourse (1996). The first part of this thesis contextualizes the case study that is performed in the second part. It does so by providing a theoretical framework, a description of the role of covers in a book’s marketing process, and a historical overview of romance book covers. This is followed by a qualitative case study that analyzes the front covers of the Goodreads Choice Awards’ top 10 romance books of 2011 and 2021. It examines the front cover image, the use of color, and the text—the title and author’s name—through the lenses of discourse, provenance, and ‘thumbnailability’—a concept described in “How Are Book Covers and Their Components Represented in the Digital Market?” by Sophie Darling. It concludes that there are various differences between the covers of romance novels of 2011 and 2021. These changes can be understood to be related to digital advancements—specifically in relation to the growing influence of the internet.