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One book or movie becomes a phenomenon. Next thing you know, practically every book or movie of an even remotely similar genre gets a cover or a poster that takes the design motif of the phenomenon's. This isn't just new books or movies either. Sometimes old books or movies get a re-release (in the case of movies this means a new DVD) with a new cover that does this.

Sometimes, this is a good thing, bringing new attention to a work that deserves it. More often, it's just pointless.

Distinct from just pure homage, where the cover is deliberately designed to make the viewer think of that specific work — this is a marketing thing. Also different from tie-in covers, which exist to let movie-goers know that the thing they saw was based on a book. (Even Twilight got those, for some reason.)

See also: Copycat Cover, which is this trope taken to the point to quasi-marketing fraud.



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Minimalist cover consisting of one symbolic object against a dark background.

    Harry Potter-inspired examples 
Cover of a slightly stylized pastel portrait of the hero with the title in a fantasy-ish font superimposed.

    "The Other Boleyn Girl"-inspired 
Historical fiction of heroine in period dress, partially obscured.

    The Da Vinci Code-inspired examples 
A cover that looks as if it has a strip ripped away to reveal a secret document/scene, calligraphic fonted title optional.

    Comic Book-inspired examples 

    Other Examples 
  • Cracked covered the movie/DVD side of this trope in this article, 5 Ways Hollywood Tricks You Into Seeing Bad Movies.
  • Check out the poster of Inception as compared to the poster for The Dark Knight. Partially justified in that both films were directed by Christopher Nolan.
  • Ever since The Tipping Point was published, academic-style nonfiction books with a white cover showing off a simple household object are common.
  • In the Noughties, desaturated advertising images (with heavy shadows and exaggerated blacks) came into vogue, to the point where the effect is being overused everywhere, as of 2011. It became so popular that when Photoshop CS5 came out, it included a new tool specifically for creating this effect (Image>Adjustments>Vibrance).
  • Variation: David Bowie notes in the retrospective book Moonage Daydream that after The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars hit big, his older albums Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold the World were rereleased with photos of him as Ziggy on the covers. The albums were folk rock and Heavy Metal respectively (as opposed to the Glam Rock of Ziggy), but "All this fuss actually put Oddity in the US Top Twenty, years after its original release."
  • The Dreamworks Face was born from this phenomenon.
  • Private Eye started a column about this phenomenon called "Bookalikes", although they occasionally branch into other media such as album covers.
  • A lot of books ape the Fifty Shades of Grey covers, even having similar titles.
  • The various Penguin books. Interesting in that all of their books have the same style of cover which are collectively updated once every few years. So by just looking at the cover, you can guess when a book was printed even if you can't see any other distinguishing feature.
  • The success of the Call the Midwife books and TV series sparked an enormous trend of memoirs of working women between the 1930s and 1960s being published in suspiciously similar covers.
  • Since the success of The Great British Bake Off, check out the baking section in any British bookshop and you will see GBBO-aping bunting-inspired artwork and the Mostra Nuova Bold typeface everywhere.
  • Back in the 80s and 90s, every UK publication of a humorous fantasy novel needed to have a cover by Josh Kirby, or failing that a cover by someone who looked like Josh Kirby, in order to say "Hey! If you love Terry Pratchett, you'll probably ... find these worth flicking through while you wait for the next one". This was particularly unfair on authors who were arguably just as good as Sir Terry, but had a completely different sense of humour.


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