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Swords Dominate 2009 Fantasy Cover Art

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For the second year in a row, swords dominated cover art in the fantasy corner of the bookstore. Orbit Books released its Trends in Fantasy Cover Art chart (embedded above), an annual “survey of cover art elements for the top fantasy novels published in the previous year.”

Despite the proliferation of sword covers, the pointy symbols appeared on 20 percent less covers than last year–a dramatic reduction in an infamous cliché. The chart also measured three rapidly growing new trends: “fog/mist/smoke” and “damsels” and “headshots.” Stay tuned for more fantasy cover art trend research as the week continues.

Here’s an excerpt: “We have concrete evidence that the big three fantasy cover clichés (‘castles,’ ‘glowy magic,’ and ‘swords’) are in decline. The 50% reduction in castles can only mean one thing … The number of dragons on covers held steady this year. The dragon population seems to be in perfect balance — but we can’t tell if that’s because new dragons are being born to replace old ones, or if last year’s dragons are just really healthy.”

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