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Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

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.

Shelter by Harlan Coben Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

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 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

9781408815502 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

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 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

Friends and Mothers by Louise Limerick Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

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 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

declaration gemma malley Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

 Book Cover Trend: butterflies, moths and lepidoptery

10 comments

  1. Great idea for a post! You found so many…very pretty!

    Butterflies have a lot of positive meanings I think: hope, release, joy, transformation, freedom, reinvention, healing, and more!

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Kelly, and thanks for sharing some additional meanings with us! :)

  2. Great list! I love this trend. It always makes for a pretty and interesting cover even if the specific book isn’t for me! A couple I’ve seen: Possession by Elana Johnson, The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker, Splintered by A.G. Howard, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Exiled by RaShelle Workman, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison.

    • Stephanie /

      Wow, thanks for that wonderful list, Randi! I’ll round them up and add them in. :)

      (Isn’t it curious how butterflies are more popular than, say, spiders? ;) )

  3. I didn’t notice this butterfly trend until now, I think it’s a great trend, the butterflies make all those covers look gorgeous and I’m a sucker for pretty book covers :)

    • Stephanie /

      Me too, Zino–it’s certainly eye-catching, and there’s a lot of scope for symbolism. :)

  4. I just finished reading ‘Special Topics in Calamity Physics’ (Marisha Pessl) which had a Cassius Blue on the cover (http://www.entertainment-scrapbook.com/2012/02/book-review-special-topics-in-calamity.html) – it’s where the protagonist gets her name from.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Lauren! How was the book, by the way? I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

  5. I do love butterflies on covers, especially the blue ones. The book covers I read tend to have leather clad duos or tattooed females. Maybe I should look into this butterfly trend. :)

    • Stephanie /

      There was a post that went around a few years ago about the leather-clad, tramp-stamped cover models in paranormal romance/urban fantasy. I should dig it up!

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