Marketing strategies may also be responsible for sexist covers. But the mantra that sex sells may not be accurate.
According to 2012 data from publishing industry analysts Codex Group, less overtly explicit covers in fact have a wider appeal among general readers.
Codex Chief Executive Officer Peter Hildick-Smith remains puzzled why science fiction and fantasy publishers sell sexualised covers.
“My guess is that it has simply evolved as category convention, allowing book buyers to instantly know that a given books is in one of their preferred categories,” he said.
Hines, author of such titles as Libriomancer, The Mermaid’s Madness and Goblin Quest, says many in the science fiction and fantasy community have not had to think about harmful messaging or sexism.
While momentum is building, Hines does not think the industry is at a tipping point yet. And that means readers will likely see covers he says objectify women for a while.
Hines is just trying to make sure his covers aren’t among them.
“My next book has a woman on the cover,” Hines says.
“And I told my publisher: ‘if you put her into one of these spine-contorted poses, the entire internet is going to make fun of you.’”