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Peruse: A Discourse Stylistic Analysis of Five Front Covers

of The New York Times Bestseller Books

West Visayas State University

College of Arts and Sciences

La Paz, Iloilo City

An Academic Paper

in Language in the MEDIA

Submitted by:

Christia Gay T. Calanuga

Submitted to:

Dr. Claudette Baluran

August 2017
Abstract

Language has a powerful effect over people, their actions and thoughts (Fomukong, 2016).

This can be seen in the use of language in different discourse types which include the use of

language, especially in books cover pages to catch and to persuade the readers attention.

Although its a common phrase that Dont judge the book by its cover, research proves that

most readers make reading decisions based on a books cover. Thus, the authors use of

language in their cover pages gives the positive impact on the attractiveness of their product.

This paper gives discourse stylistic analysis of five Cover Pages of New York Times Bestseller

Authors to know what is being communicated, how it is communicated and the interpretation

by adopting the Textual Conceptual Functions as given by Jeffries (2016) which are the

prioritization, naming and describing, and implying and assumption and by utilizing Bloggers

theory of texts color analysis. This study has emphasized the role of context to reveal its

functions, the underlying meanings of the text, and the use of different stylistic devices that

attracts the readers, urging them to choose the book.

Keywords: Stylistics analysis, context, language, linguistic description, Contextual Analysis,

New York Best Seller Authors, Cover Pages

Language in the MEDIA

Language has many purposes which help a person in determining how they choose

words, syntactic expressions and figurative language and can result to a very powerful effect

over a persons thoughts and actions. Language can function in a dynamic and volatile way, and

in various discourse types which include advertisements, lectures, newspapers, sermons, and

other forms of entertainment media. One of the major purposes for using language is to

persuade the audience to carry out an action or buy an idea. This is true in the language of

entertainment media, especially books, where the publishing industry makes choices of

language that will manipulate the minds of the reader, urging them to buy the book. The

powerful influence of language has on people is that it makes them to choose carefully among

what kind of language is present, especially in books cover because they need to draw the

readers attention to purchase the book and to recreate the experience of reading the book.

The quite common phrase in English: Dont judge a book by its cover, is metaphorically

means dont judge the value of the thing by its appearance (dont judge, 2014), or can be
also literally used as, to not judge a book by its binding. However, in actual sense a books

cover can powerfully influenced in consumers choosing of a book and remain significant during

their reading. The layout of a book cover is designed specifically to attract readers and increase

sales. This paper is going to discuss the five front covers of The New York Times Bestseller

Books, analyzing what is being communicated, how it is communicated and the interpretation.

It specifically delves into the stylistic devices and markers used and the process of

interpretation which change the readers preference. The analytic apparatus by Jeffries (2016)

is used to analyze the five front covers of The New York Times Bestseller Books.

Book Cover Design as Marketing Tool

Booksellers began to notice the great shifts of the book jacket during the late 1890s.

Book covers first appeared in England in the beginning of the nineteenth century as publishers

first started to learn about the rules of consumerism design is a key part of a companys sales

(Gallagher, 2015), because it is the books first communication to the reader that shows a

graphic representation of its content and history. The cover art, the strength of an authors

name, and even the title can influence how a book sells.

According to the United States Data Monitor Publishing in the United States Industry

Profile, book advertising is the most lucrative segment of the publishing market and accounts

for over forty percent of its market value (Data Monitor 7). Many critics suggest that there is

something special about the mass-produced book as an objectit is more than just a

presentation of the ideas of an author (Drew and Sternberg, 2015).

The books cover is like a container and protection that deliver both direct and indirect

information about the contents and it also shows the importance of its packaging terms in

influencing buying decisions. Sometimes book covers directly shows whats the content of the

book, where it gives the reader a hint of what the story would be about, at other times it may

have no relationship at all with the book content, or it may contain relevant allusions.

Studies conducted in different domain have shown that consumer evaluations of related

objects are generally more positive when the objects fill well together (dAstous et.al; 2006).

Therefore, the book cover should have a positive impact on readers evaluation though the

cover should not be a complete representation of its contents, but at least it should have some

relationship with the books contents.


Books are experiential (Gallagher, 2015) therefore, it may be assumed that the covers

have a representation of its content, or it may provide the readers a sense of experience just by

looking at the cover. In other words, the covers are not necessarily to be entirely the

representation about the book, but rather some comments and visuals that can most accurately

recreate the feeling of the story.

Discourse Stylistic Analysis

Discourse stylistics views literary texts as instances of naturally occurring language use

in social context, where discourse analysis should reveal as much about the context about the

text (Simpson & Hall, 2002) while stylistic analysis is a normal part of both linguistic and literary

studies (Li, 2009). It refers to the identification of patterns of usage in speech and writing

which in linguistics has the purpose of a close analysis to identify and classify the elements of

language being used.

Discourse analysis also has to do only with structure of spoken discourse and how

people understand language in text. Similarly, Stylistic analysis studies the meaning of literary

text and be restricted to the study of style. Both of discourse and stylistic analysis are relevant

in some way to the examination of literature. In this study, it gives a discourse stylistic analysis

of the five Cover Pages of New York Times Bestseller Authors to know what is being

communicated, how it is communicated and the interpretation by adopting the Textual

Conceptual Functions as given by Jeffries (2016) which are the prioritization, naming and

describing, and implying and assumption. Also, this study touches the multi-modal analysis of

text colors given by Bloggers theory.

Prioritizing, Naming and Describing

As argued by the language conflict team, prioritizing is when a sentence we choose

(consciously or not) what information to emphasize. Prioritizing therefore catches an attention

to focus on a particular piece of information which are the placing of new and important

information at the end of the sentence, the final clause elements of the passive sentence and

the placing of less important information in the subordinate clause. In this study, the view of

graphologists on prioritizing will be used in choosing to emphasize certain information by the

use of capitals and bolds. While naming and describing looks at the ways how writers refers to

particular referents which can be things or people around them. These have great effects
because a particular name or description given to referent shows how the writers view the

world and leads the reader to interfere the writers point of view of certain object or concept.

Naming and describing has a powerful effect and so it is done with so much consideration

(Fomukong, 2016).

Implying and Assuming

Implying is about implicature, a pragmatic principle which accounts for what a speaker

can imply, suggest or mean, as distinct from what the speaker literally says (Fomukong, 2016).

This proves that speakers usually go beyond what they actually say. Assuming comes with the

assumptions that it is the common ground of all the participants in a conversation. Yule (1995,

pp.100) argued that in a more general way, speakers continually design their linguistic

messages on the basis of assumptions about what their hearers already know, that is, what a

speaker assumes is true or is known by the hearer can be described as a presupposition

making the expression and recognition of intentions an essential feature of

communication. In other words, the producer provides an evidence intention which is to

convey a certain meaning, but inferred by the receiver inferred base on the evidence provided.

Therefore in producing an utterance, the writer or speaker has to make the input relevant to

connect it to the readers with the use of available background information. The publisher

usually get their audience by sending a textual messages to catch their attention by involving

them in a stimulus, so the readers would focus on the meaning of the text that the publisher

wants to pass across.

Figure 1. Cover Art for 2007 Paperback Edition of The Burnt House

by Faye Kellerman
Prioritizing, Naming and Describing

In this front cover of Faye Kellermans book, FAYE KELLERMAN, THE BURNT

HOUSE, DECKER AND RINA ARE BACK!, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, and KELLERMAN

IS A MASTER. are prioritized. These items are highlighted by writing them in an italicized

form, in bold, in white, and in red which is assertive and domineering. FAYE KELLERMAN is

highlighted in bold and is in capitals because the intention of the publisher is to sell the idea of

strength and importance of the name itself that carries more contextual interpretation through

implying. Faye Kellerman is one of the bestselling authors who is well-known for writing

mystery stories. The use of her name attracts readers who prefer to read mystery books and

her name also carries an ideological status of power and dominance over her readers. THE

BURNT HOUSE is in capitals, in bold and in red, because its purpose is to highlight the title

and to give the readers a glimpse of the story as to where the story would evolve; the color red

also shows the interpretation itself that the house is burning and it is deviant and calls attention

to help readers know that it is the title of the book. DECKER AND RINA ARE BACK! is a

more stylistic and catchy phrase that was written in capitals and in bold which gives the readers

an idea that Decker and Rina have some special participation in the story and the apostrophe is

use to call intentionally for attention and gives more exciting vibes about the caption. NEW

YORK TIMES BESTSELLER which is written in capitals, in white and in less size but placed in the

uppermost portion supported an idea of importance because it would be assumed that The New

York Times is one of the well-known companies that produces a well-written book (even

without even knowing it) and the word Bestseller definitely remains in the mind of the reader.

The attitude of the publisher here is to cause desirability in the consumer through the moral

and practical judgment. This is supported by the quotation KELLERMAN IS A MASTER which

provides the sense of credibility towards the author.

Implying and Assuming

In Figure 1. Cover Art for 2007 Paperback Edition of The Burnt House by Faye

Kellerman, the use of the name of the author presupposes that the reader knows the person as

a well-known writer under the New York Times. As a reader, it would imply a message that the

book has a good quality in terms of writing. The use of the color red in the title has a strong

effect because it catches easily the readers eye. Also the sentence like Decker and Rina are
back! gives the reader an overview and to assume that the mentioned name are somewhat

related in the story and they would be more curious as to where the characters have gone and

now theyre back. Also the book review that was given by St. Louis Post-Dispatch Kellerman is

a master. gives the reader an assurance that the author is really a master of creating mystery

stories. The implicature here is for the audience to believe in the author strength in writing.

The imperative is another grammatical structure used in the text which has implied

meaning. It shows the relationship between the advertisers and the reader. In an imperative

the grammatical mood conveys the speakers attitude about the state of being of what the

sentence describes. Here, In Figure 1., the imperative implicature is the ownership of the

company which says New York Times Bestseller, which presupposes that New York Times is one

of the biggest company that produces best authors and books. Just by the name of the

company and the word bestseller, it sends a message that the reader must buy the book

because it assures the it one of the well-written books that published by the company.

Figure 2. Cover Art for 2008 Norton Paperback Edition of The Zookeepers Wife

by Diane Ackerman

Prioritizing, Naming and Describing

In this book, DIANE ACKERMAN, ZOOKEEPERS WIFE, A War Story, THE NEW YORK

TIMES BESTSELLER , and A shining book beyond category. are also prioritized by writing

them in capitals, in bold, and in white and is placed in a quotation marks which are domineering

and eye-catching. DIANE ACKERMAN is highlighted in bold and in white with a very distinct

spaces between the letters to emphasize the name of the author. Diane Ackerman is one of the

well-known writers of non-fiction and poetry, her works have been appeared in National
Geographic, The New Yorker, Smithsonian and elsewhere, which give an extra credit for the

readers to read her book. ZOOKEEPERS WIFE is also in capitals and in bold and in the center

to emphasize that it is the title of the book which also gives the readers a little curiosity about

the book. Another prioritizing of words is the phrase A War Story which was written in bold, in

white with a very catchy red background; it gives the reader an idea that the story would be

about the war and it would lead the reader to ask why it was entitled The Zookeepers Wife and

it would call their attention to find out whats all about the book. It is also in a stylish way of

making the book cover interesting and pulling the consumers attention. NEW YORK TIMES

BESTSELLER which is written in capitals, in white and in less size but placed in the uppermost

portion supported an idea of importance to cause desirability in the consumer to trust that the

book was well-written because it is one of the bestseller published books under the New York

Times. A shining book beyond category. also catches the readers attention because it

provides an idea about the book, in which the readers would expect that they would experience

the same by buying and reading it.

Implying and Assuming

In Figure 2. Cover Art for 2008 Norton Paperback Edition of The Zookeepers Wife by

Diane Ackerman, the use of the name of the author which was put in the upper-center of the

book, conveys a message that the author is one of the well-known writers and they must read

her work. Especially, the book is made by one of the bestseller author under the New York

Times, by just simple statement, it conveys a message that it is commanding the readers to

pick the book. As Chilton in Culpeper et al. (2009, pp.171) explains, texts are understood with

their context. This is in order to understand how linguistic elements that make up texts interact

with discourse and with processes in the mind to give meaning to the text. The three-word-

caption which is A war story indicates to the content of the book, and it has the relation to the

title of the book The Zookeepers Wife which would attack the readers curiosity as to what is

the story would be. This is another different approach to the readers which would remain in

their minds especially that the three-word-caption is in red background that added to the

emotion of the text.


Figure 3. Cover Art for 1991 MIRA Books Edition of Right Next Door

by Debbie Macomber

Prioritizing, Naming and Describing

In this books front cover, DEBBIE MACOMBER, Right Next Door, #1 New York Times

Bestselling Author, and Its a romantic day in the neighborhood! are prioritized by writing them

in capitals, in bold, in an italicized form, in dark pink and in blue. DEBBIE MACOMBER is

highlighted in bold, in capitals, in bigger fonts and in dark pink in relation to the importance of

the name of the author, and the dark pink was used to signify the gender of the author. Debbie

Macomber is also the one of the authors of bestseller books, she becomes a leading voice in

womens fiction worldwide and her work has appeared on every major bestseller list. Right Next

Door is prioritized by writing it in an italicized form with blue colors which would mainly attract

the readers attention. The use of italicized words also confirms the relation of it to the title of

the book, in which the words are the presentation of the movement that shows the next door.

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author also draws the attention of the reader which it would

remain in their mind the symbol #1. The #1 is more economic, stylistic and catchy that when

written in words as in number one for example. New York Times Bestselling Author is also

prioritized by writing them in capitals; the New York Times was italicized which the readers

would assume that it is a well-known company name and the adjective bestselling which

modifies the noun author, gives the reader an assurance that the content of the book was well-

written and will fit to their standards. While the phrase at the bottom part: Its a romantic day
in the neighborhood! gives the reader an idea that the book is all about romance. By italicizing

the word romantic, it gives a deviant structure that making the phrase catchy and interesting.

Implying and Assuming

In Figure 3. Cover Art for 1991 MIRA Books Edition of Right Next Door by Debbie

Macomber, the texts are all in a light and simple yet eye-catching and classy format. It is a mix

of dark pink and blue color, especially the name of the author which is in the classy dark pink

and written in an elegant way. This sends the reader to assume that the book is also written in

an elegant way with light emotions. Also, just by reading the name of the author written in the

upper-center of the book, the reader would imply that the author is one of popular authors

which one of her works had appeared in the New York Times. The title of the book also

indicates that theres something in the next door which is masculine in gender because of the

blue color that embodies the title, and it is supported by the caption Its a romantic day in the

neighborhood!, which would imply to the readers that the story would evolve in a romantic

neighborhood, and it has something to do in the title Right next Door. Also here, In Figure 3,

the imperative implicature is the ownership of the company which says New York Times

Bestseller, which makes the readers assume that New York Times is one of the biggest

companies that choose to showcase best authors and books. Just by the name of the company

and the word bestseller, it presupposes a strong command that the reader must buy the book

and it assures that the book is suitable for their taste.

Figure 4. Cover Art for 2002 Jove-Mass Market Edition of Guilty Pleasures
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Prioritizing, Naming and Describing

In this front cover, LAURELL K. HAMILTON, GUILTY PLEASURES, #1 NEW

YORK TMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR, A HEADY MIX OF ROMANCE AND HORROR, $4.99

SPECIAL PRICE are prioritized by writing them in bold, in capitals, and in white. LAURELL K.

HAMILTON is highlighted in bold, in white and is placed on the upper part of the book to

emphasize the authors name. It also attracts the readers because they feel attached to her by

just simply buying it. Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer of fantasy, horror and mystery

novels. Her background also assures the readers that her work is well-written. GUILTY

PLEASURES is written in bold and in capitals to highlight that it is the title of the book. The

readers would be tempted to buy the book by just reading the title of the book, because of the

use of the adjective guilty defining the noun pleasure, the readers would want to know

whats the guilty pleasures would be about. It is also supported by the caption from one the

book reviews given to thi book: A HEADY MIX OF ROMANCE AND HORROR, which was written

in capitals to emphasize the view of the person about the book, and the readers, would be

knowledgeable and be aware just by reading a simple review about the book. #1 NEW YORK

TMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR also catches the readers attention, in which the symbol #1 would

affect their own preference, because to Fomukong (2016), these fragments are used because

they are more conversational and relay information quickly. Its importance is also connected to

the name of the company which was in an italicized form: New York Times , and the bestselling

author that is pertaining to Hamilton, also has a great impact for the mind of the readers,

because it would give them an idea that this book is worth buying. $4.99 SPECIAL PRICE is

highlighted by writing them in bold, in capitals and by putting them in the right center of the

book with white background. Like the symbol #1, $4.99 it is more economic and stylistic than

to put it in words, it also draws the readers attention to buy the book because it is cheaper

than the usual price. Words like special price also encourages the readers to grab the

opportunity while the publisher offering a lesser price.

Implying and Assuming

In Figure 4. Cover Art for 2002 Jove-Mass Market Edition of Guilty Pleasures by Laurell

K. Hamilton, the use of the name of the authorLaurell K. Hamilton conveys a message to the
readers the sense of attachment they would have with the author by buying and reading her

book. They also would imply that book is well-written because the authors name is embedded

in the book which shows that author gives his own name as reputation for the book and it

appears under the New York Times which added to the sense of reliability of the readers on the

book quality. Another factor that could affect the sale of book is the book title which says

Guilty Pleasures, this makes the readers to pay more attention to the title and to the content

of the book. Moreover, the price tag on the book that says $4.99 Special Price ultimately

catches the buyers opinion when they are looking for cheap but well-written story along with it,

it also gives a mild command that the readers must grab the opportunity while the book is in

special price and in which the advertiser is giving an order even though the consumer can reject

it.

Figure 5. Cover Art for 1993 International Ballantine Books Edition of Driving Force

by Dick Francis

Prioritizing, Naming and Describing

In this book front cover, DICK FRANCIS, DRIVING FORCE, THE NEW YORK TIMES

BESTSELLER, Author of COMEBACK, INGENIOUSLY ENTERTAINING are prioritized; they

are written in bold, in capitals and in white. DICK FRANCIS is written in bold, in capitals and

in a bigger font to give emphasis to the authors name. It also catches the readers attention

first before flipping through the pages. Dick Francis is the author of many bestselling

mysteries and it would be another idea that could persuade the readers to buy the book.

DRIVING FORCE is written in bold, in capitals and with the yellow outline in each letter, it is

to emphasize that it the title of the book. The outline of each letter which is the color yellow
also shows that the it interprets the title within it, by just simply looking at the words, we can

see that the outline is the driving force for the word to be noticed by the readers. THE NEW

YORK TIMES BESTSELLER is in capitals and in the uppermost part of the book, which shows the

ownership of the company and it also defines the book as one of the bestsellers. Author of

COMEBACK, only the comeback is written in bold and in capitals, this is to add for an

additional attraction about the author that could persuade the readers. INGENIOUSLY

ENTERTAINING is also written in bold, and in capitals, but in lesser font, because it is to show

to the readers the insight and comment about the book that could help them internalize

whether to buy the book or not.

Implying and Assuming

In Figure 5. Cover Art for 1993 International Ballantine Books Edition of Driving Force by

Dick Francis, the emphasis of authors name implies to the readers the quality of how the writer

made the story. It also gives them an idea that they would be connected even not personally

through the author but by just the book. The title of the book also contributes on the

preference of readers. It lets them examine the content of the book by just the title and also

how strong can the title affect the mind of the readers. Another catchable text in book is the

phrase author of COMEBACK which was clearly emphasized to draw an attention. It also

provides an idea about the author, and how well-written his books are. The companys

ownership cannot deny that it helps the book more attractive, because it would assure the

readers that the book is also one of the best because it was written by a bestseller author that

appears in New York Times which assumed as one of the well-known publishers.

Conclusions

The study has emphasized the stylistic analysis and the role of context to reveal the

underlying meanings and functions of the text. This study has examined the use of

language of front covers of books as interactive, involving the role of the writer and the

reader, considering this type of language is diverse. The analysis examined five front covers

of The New York Times Bestseller Books and shows the descriptive information that each

catchy phrases found in the covers can draw the attention of readers. Also the publishers

use different stylistic devices and style markers that carries positivity, attractiveness and a
common ground that makes the readers identify what the authors wants to convey urging

them to buy the book.

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