One of the things that is both wonderful and frustrating about our industry is the fact that each book is an individual product with its own look. Of course, series books are designed to look the same (both in term of their cover and their interiors - look at any David Baldacci or James Patterson book, as an example), but for the most part, the vast number of fonts, artists, and styles has led to what can appropriately be called "the art of the book."
So why, I ask, with tens of thousands of fonts available, are so many cover designers going with HELVETICA? Even if you're not a font person, you know what Helvetica is. It's the blocky, boring font that seems to be used on about 75% of the thrillers and mysteries today, often in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS with A L O T O F S P A C I N G between the letters, not only in T H E T I T L E but also in T H E A U T H O R' S N A M E.
Often, Helvetica will sit on top of a somewhat blurry photograph that shows nothing in particular, not blending in with the scenery but looking as if the type has been dropped down from the sky onto the cover image.
I know what's happening. Publishers don't want to spend a lot of money on anything. The best designers cost good money. At the larger publishers, the design staff just doesn't have the time to design every cover. So, decisions are made and a lot of stuff goes to junior people or freelancers who will work on the cheap. The smaller houses don't have on-staff designers and rely on people who aren't trained artists to design their covers. In all instances, you get what you pay for.
I'm not sure if the typical reader notices this sort of thing, but it's really starting to bug me. Most of ourcover designs are freelanced, but we hire only artists with a vision for what a really strong cover should be, not people who are instructed to choose a royalty-free photo and slap some type onto it.
So, Helvetica, you have done your duty with regard to mystery fiction. You may try to hide your identity as Helvetica Neue, or Helvetica Inserat, or any one of dozens of variations - but you're still Helvetica, and you can now go back to your proper place in business reports and allow other fonts a chance to shine.