No matter what you call it - monochromatic, void of colour, black & white - these covers are anything but stark. The use of black and white has been widely used in a variety of mediums and book covers in particular have seen a resurgence of this type of design aesthetic.
From the earliest days of motion pictures, the film used was black and white with colour gradually added from 1930 to the 1960s. Considered "retro" and niche now, black and white photography was the norm when photography first got it start in the mid-1800s. Once colour was available, black and white was the dominate choice of film due to its classic looks and lower cost. Television also got its start in black and white and it wasn't until the late 1960s that colour became mainstream. Newspapers, magazines and comic strips also were entirely black and white until the late 1970s.
Herman Melville's Moby Dick, published by Vintage, Shades of Nature by Heinrich van den Berg and any other title on this page are minimalist when it comes to colour but all pack a big punch when it comes to being pleasing to the eye.