A few months ago I reviewed two books, one after the other, that were completely different save for the fact that each featured a butterfly on the cover. Then, when doing some re-shelving a little while ago, I came across another couple of books whose cover designs featured butterflies quite prominently in their designs.
I decided to go on a quick hunt to see just how many butterfly book covers there are flitting about in the world. Needless to say, my efforts turned up quite a few.
My little collection seems to contain four different types of butterfly designs: the eye-catching Blue Morpho (named for Aphrodite), the Red Emperor (named for Atalanta, and related to ‘balance’), stylised butterflies, and butterflies in jars (souls, trapped).
The popularity of the butterfly as a design element doesn’t really surprise me. Butterflies have a few things going for them. First, they’re pretty. Everyone loves pretty things on book covers.
And second, they’re deep and meaningful–their inclusion in a design results not only in some eye-popping colour, but in some oh-so-clever symbolism.
Butterflies represent change of all types, after all. Depending on the culture we’re talking about, they might indicate profound spiritual change, may be representative of the purgatorial soul, may be representative of long life (or, conversely of death), and may also represent love.
What better way of simply and eye-catchingly representing a postapocalyptic world than a pretty blue butterfly? Or using a butterfly in a jar to represent a trapped and fettered soul? Want to suggest death and doom and gloom without alienating your readers? Whack a butterfly on it. Self-discovery? Butterfly.
They’re quite handy, aren’t they?
Have you come across any butterfly covers in your travels? If so, let me know in the comments and I’ll pin them down and add them to my collection.