I know every armchair book design critic remembers when it seemed like every other trade novel had a pair of legs as its main cover element. I want to say it was just a few years ago, but a quick search pulls up this Chicago Tribune article on the subject from 2003. And that makes sense, seeing as the phenomenon has edged over into snowclone status—pretty soon afterward it looked as though shoes were going to be the new feet, and not quite three years ago I pegged sky as the new shoes. As for what’s shaping up to be the new sky, I’m putting in my vote this year for bare trees in snow:
Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child (Reagan Arthur, 2012)
Ramona Ausubel’s No One is Here Except All of Us (Riverhead, 2012)
Pamela Ryder’s A Tendency to Be Gone (Dzanc, 2011)
David Benioff’s City of Thieves (Viking, 2008)
James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love (Canongate, 2005), which I realize isn’t particularly current, nor are the trees bare, but I will forever have it conflated with City of Thieves in my mind.
Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees (Reprise, 1972) (Sorry—just making sure you were paying attention.)
OK, I realize that might not exactly be enough to constitute a trend… whatever turns out to be the pet book cover art imagery for 2013 will probably not be known as “the new bare trees in snow.” But they’re pretty, no? I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more instances before this particular legs is used up.