The bodice ripper or clinch cover seems to be a romance staple that no one wants to get rid of just yet. Publishers keep putting them on covers, authors say that they sell books, and readers say they like the eye candy.
Personally, I can't stand them. To publishers and authors I say: I don't buy them. I see these covers online and at the store, and I usually skip right past them. The authors I read frequently aren't usually stuck with clinch covers. That's probably partly because of the type of books I read (often cross-genre) and partly that I avoid certain publishers who specialize in clinches. I know I'm not the only reader who avoids these covers.
So yes, they may be selling their books to the people who like clinches, but they are also missing out on sales to large-volume readers who don't like them. They are also missing out on the library market. There are still a lot of libraries and librarians who don't buy romances. And part of that can be blamed on clinch covers and the bad image that they have and that they convey.
Readers who like the clinch covers are a different issue. Obviously, everyone has different tastes and everyone has different ideas about things. But the clinch covers propogate the very views of romance that we frequently fight against or are frustrated with. If you don't want someone to deride your romance reading, why are you holding a book that just begs for derision? And why, when women complain all the time about men objectifying women, do we paste pictures of half naked men in typically phallic, patriarchal images on the covers of our books? And why, when women complain all the time about the unrealistic expectations and images of beauty out there, do we put typical white, slim, big-breasted, same-old-same-old women on the covers of our own books?
I would like to see the clinch disappear. But since I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon, I wish publishers would stick to the compromise that is sometimes applied to books: Put the clinch picture on a stepback and have a classy front cover. Don't put the clinch on the back of the book, because that's equally as visible and irritating as the front, if not more so because sometimes I'm tricked into getting one when I buy books online. On the stepback, the people who want it can ogle it, and those of us who don't like it can ignore it or cut it out at our own choosing.
And in case you think I'm over-reacting to the continued presence of clinch or bodice ripper covers (and because I can't have a post without pictures), here are a few recent ones that I've seen: