Coverflip: Maureen Johnson Calls For An End To Gendered Book Covers With An Amazing Challenge (IMAGES)

05/07/2013 03:59 pm ET | Updated May 09, 2013

Yesterday, author Maureen Johnson had a great idea. She tweeted "I do wish I had a dime for every email I get that says, "Please put a non-girly cover on your book so I can read it. - signed, A Guy" - and so came the idea for a challenge for her 77,000 followers. A challenge that she called Coverflip. Below, she explains more.

You are informed about a book’s perceived quality through a number of ways. Probably the biggest is the cover.

(Other messages include: blurbs (who they are from), comparisons, review coverage, store placement, and categorization.)

And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it.

This idea that there are “girl books” and “boy books” and “chick lit” and “whatever is the guy equivalent of chick lit”* gives credit to absolutely no one, especially not the boys who will happily read stories by women, about women. As a lover of books and someone who supports readers and writers of both sexes, I would love a world in which books are freed from some of these constraints. Click here to read more about the perceived differences between 'girl' and 'boy' books.

Which is why yesterday, I proposed a little experiment on Twitter. I asked people to take a well-known book, then to imagine the author of that book was of the opposite gender, or was genderqueer, and imagine what that cover might look like.

There were hundreds of replies within 24 hours. Here are just a few of them.

Coverflip: Gendered Book Covers Turned Around

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