Book Cover Trends: Why Did it Have to be Snakes?

Design trends rear up everywhere, and the public library is not exempt. Spend enough time in the stacks and you’ll start to pick out any number of cover art fads. 

To give one particularly inexplicable example, autumn of 2019 was snake season in the book world. At least three mainstream fiction releases from October of last year had snakes on the cover, all in a style which seems to hearken back to old scientific illustrations:

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman

Trinity Sight by Jennifer Givhan


Meanwhile, Anne Boyer's The Undying, released a month earlier, was a less common nonfiction example:

The trend appears to have gotten going with Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Island. With a June 2019 release, it hit the shelves a full three to four months earlier than the year’s other serpentine selections. Was Ghosh’s book the inspiration for the others, or simply a sampling of things to come?

But the true originator, as far as this researcher can tell, was Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, released all the way back in 2014!

It’s a stylish cover, to be sure, so it’s not totally surprising other designers would take inspiration from it. The real question is, what took so long?

Having taken off so recently, there's a very good chance the snake art bubble hasn't burst yet. Keep your eyes peeled for other snakey cover art at your SLPL branch of choice.

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