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A Cover Whore’s River of Denial – Is the Cover Really Dead?

Musing Mondays {June 18}

This Week: To have or Have not...

Musing Mondays is a weekly event hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Each week MizB asks a book related question and bloggers answer with their thoughts about the given topic.

This Week’s Musing..

MzB read an article, this past week, about book covers, and the difference between print & digital covers; about how the digital covers have almost disappeared entirely, while publishers decide to just skip right to the content. I to went and read this article and I suggest you get yourself over there and read the article too! Here is what this week’s muse presents for pondering, I hope you guys join in?

What do you think about this? Do you think the book cover is “dead”? Do you care whether the “covers” on digital books exist or not? 

If you have the time, read the article and then share your thoughts! :D

If not, here are a few quotes from the article:

“…every time you set down a physical book, the cover is staring up at you. And every time you pick it back up, you have to go “through” the cover to get to the text. Do that five times and you’ll never forget the title or author.”

“If so much of what book cover design has evolved into is largely a brick-and-mortar marketing tool, then what place does a ‘cover’ hold in digital books? Especially after you purchase it? But, more tellingly, even before you purchase it?”

“If the cover is no longer a visual marketing tool, why not leverage these digital distribution systems and make the cover a notification tool?”

“What do we now hunt when buying books? Data.

“This user experience flow isn’t a product of any hardware limitation. It’s a set of decisions clearly designed around efficiency (and, possibly, data) — gets us into the text as quickly as possible. Of course, this efficiency comes at the expense of intimacy.”

“In iBooks and the iPad Kindle app, covers are reduced to thumbnails barely 200 pixels high. Most typography is rendered nearly illegible. And as certain books become applications, their covers become icons.”

“… the vast and artificial digital distance between authors and their audience on a platform like Kindle or iBooks. As an author you would think these platforms would do a better job at fostering community between writers and their audience. Or between fellow readers. Perhaps, someday.”

So, what do you think?

Many of you following me you know I am a cover lover. Oh heck,  forget being PC about this, I am a full blown cover whore. This is my main complaint with the Kindle Touch, there are no thumbnails, and the only way you can see the cover is to open up the book, click at the top right corner, then go to the bottom click go to and then click COVER. Wiping brow, woosh OK pretty, sort of, better than nothing. I agree with the author of the article, some covers are very striking in black and white. I am very lucky, I also own a Kindle Fire (actually two now, Geoff and I are very excited and thank you Novel Publicity, thank you Justin Ordoñez and Frederick Lee Brooke), and though I am suppose to “not judge a book by it’s cover” it is the gateway to the world within that protective piece of art.



From my previous Musing Monday “…I have this memory of kicking a piece of gum stuck to the indoor outdoor carpet sample I was sitting on in my elementary school Library afraid to look up because the scary lady just yanked a pretty book out of my hand and made all of us 1st grade children sit down and listen to a lecture.” 

So to the first question posed, do I think that the cover is dead? No, as with anything it is meant to be a visual representation, it is the first thing people see when picking a book whether online or in a book store. As every book blogger can attest, we want to put a cover with a synopsis and their review. I require a large copy just so I can show it off, make awesome feature images and help sell the book (see above). I believe that authors are not content in staying digital, the true goal will be to have their book available in both in e-book format and at the very least trad-paperback, as it should be.

Do I believe it maybe dying? Yes the marketing presentations for designers are dying but being restructured, we are still visual creatures on some level. Look at my blog, look at the other blogs out there, things are dynamic! Heck even the coding is called Dynamic! If not, we would be back to the pre-high-speed days of pages that are black and white with a few base hex colors of red and blue thrown in and under 56K. Boring. I challenge everyone who says the cover does not matter to tell me if they would have checked the book out if they only read the title? Not all writers can write a good title, in fact the title can sink the book too, but that is a subject for another day and another muse.

I present for example, Pinterest. Just what is this elusive website so many people are talking about? The one that requires an invitation to get into but hundreds of thousands are using. Sure it has gotten bad press, but the point of this site is VISUAL immersion. It bookmarks those recipes, those DIY craft projects, and even books with striking and memorable visual aids. Book marketing is making its way there, as Girl Who Reads highlighted in her Thursday Tips this last week.

Covers are meant to ease the reader into the story. To help establish a tone (but not have final say).

Totally, it is not the final say! As I mentioned in the previous post which the Muse posed the question “Would You Judge a Book By Its Cover” I am guiltily drawn in by a cover, this year alone I bought three physical copies of books because of their cover’s.

Do you see the theme here? They are all YA Books, I wanted to point this out because they are marketing to a highly visual group of people, our youth. Everything is “Oh SHINY!” I have three teenage daughters and they are all bloody visual, heck my two sons are also look at the boxes of Legos; colors and designs and many times the choice of which one they want will be based on the coolest most colorful covers (yes even my 23 year old still plays the “Shiny” card). Movies and product images, everything sells with both visual information in addition with the data.

The article says that we now tend to hunt “data” when we are buying books… but that’s not entirely true. YES we do everything with the use of data these days. Sure, I want the story, and I want the information (in nonfiction). But, I still love the covers, too. If the cover is crappy, I’m less likely to even read the blurb! Meaning that, even that ”data” isn’t enough for me… I still need the cover. Heck we all use data, but I use my image search tab with Google almost as much as doing a data search. At times I have more of a challenge and spend more time designing and formatting my posts to be that striking visual along with being well written .

“There is a tremendous opportunity for book designers and software engineers to figure out what our digital book procession should be.”

I whole heartily agree with this snippet, this is not a time to wave goodbye to the cover design! This is a time to embrace a new era, to rethink and redesign a marketing strategy set up to have covers that are both for ebook and print! As a designer myself, I know that for the two decades the internet has changed the way we all do things. This is not about desktop publishing anymore, this is about digital publishing in a format that crosses both the digital highways and that can slid across the counter and caressed in our hands. (See cover whore strikes again).

“…with the present digital inflection, the role of the cover is changing radically; disappearing in some cases. It doesn’t need to shout anymore because it doesn’t serve the same purpose.”

Bullshit, as I said above, it needs to change, not radically but change directions. Some aspects, such as those fancy fonts, yes they do need to be checked now not only at the hand-held stage but at the thumbnail size to make sure the fonts and images translate down with the image sizes, it means more work and re-arranging priorities. I think this means it has to shout out MORE, especially for books where the cover never did really matter before. Now is the era that non-fiction books can make a break into a new marketing demographic, with the use of the “Shiny” design response.

“”….why not leverage these digital distribution systems and make the cover a notification tool?” As for adding this into the process for your purchase or your perusal, why not it already is. When I open my Fire I see my latest acquisition and it makes me excited, so bright and shiny and pretty! But it better be part of the whole package, not just a notification tool because  I want my covers!

 I started reading on my iPhone three years ago because books from the college book store for my upper division classes were killing me money wise. Since I was mainly reading books that were classics or constants, I found them for under four dollars compared to what the book store wanted, for example; $12 for a used copy of Scarlet Letter. I also was running out of room fast. We have over 2000 books in this house and more in storage.. wait did I say house? NO cabin, and the cabin is 18’x24″ The photo below was taken the week after we moved in, Geoff had yet to unpack his books and I had yet  unpack 21 more book boxes still in storage plus this was prior to me finishing my English Degree or. So the age of the eBook is upon us. We have managed to ImproviseAdapt and Overcome in our storage of the books, but let’s face it. Today’s large apartments out there are half the size they were two decades ago. My first one bedroom in 1986 was bigger than the combined two floors of this cabin at 950 sq ft and that was actually considered small! These days one bedrooms are around 600 sq ft. (which usually includes your car port or your storage closet space by the way).

only a smidgen of what I own

MzB and I both were drawn in by the set of Oliver Sacks’ book covers –which when put together with all the books in the series on your screen (I have a feeling it works better with the iPad but apparently there is also an app for the e-Reader), you see  the visual introduction of the series in a whole picture with six books, and each book itself introduces you to the individual book. Oh see this would sell me on getting the complete series, even if I did not know if I liked the first one yet, yes see the Cover Whore strikes again! See Improvised, Adapted and not only Overcome but embracing the digital reality. Digital media means no limitations in reach and space, in a world that was first dreamt of and written in between a very striking cover by William Gibson, the internet, cyber space and  virtual reality held the world to no boundaries only the limitations of your imagination!

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your answer in a comment here or at MzB’s (even if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!  

(see wouldn’t he make a KICK BUTT cover? Hmmm No I am not in denial the cover is NOT DEAD or even dying!

AKMamma and the Mighty Moose!

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  1. Regarding that one quote that you called bullshit on I totally agree. Covers are part of the thing that makes a reader pick up a book hence as you pointed out the rise in popularity of YA book which again as you pointed out you picked up due to the cover.
    I myself am a cover whore proud of it. Yes a cover isn’t all there is in a book but when I go to a book store a pretty or unusual cover will make me pick it up and with a ton of choices the more eye catching the better. I’ve found authors telling me when asked yes covers are important, this is why I went with such a bold cover why because they want the book noticed.
    It’s no different in the case of ebooks, there I can’t pick it up but if I scroll through amazon then I will click a link to a book because of the cover. If a book is suggested to me as similar the one I check out is the one with the nice cover. So I am still even online going for a cover. Digital books are no different the ones with pretty eye catching covers are the ones that people see that people I being one of them will look at further because of the cover. Those who think covers are going away I think are wrong from personal experience and conversations with authors and others in the publishing field I think covers are in fact becoming more important. I’ve had conversations with authors just about their covers. Drooled over covers in many a post on blogs, it the cover that will first catch my eye before I read any of the post. My only issue is that owning the cheapest 79 kindle I don’t get covers and this is a shame because I love them so.
    I say long live awesome covers! New authors focus on it. It will be one of your best marketing tools.
    Show me some love!

  2. Rant indeed…but totally justified.
    We are at least in part all visual people, some of us more tht others.
    I think the cover is part of the beauty of a book, the pleasure, the reading pleasure of a book.
    Are they dying. If it saved money, I am afraid so.

  3. Love your picture of your bookshelves! Soooo envious of the built-ins!!!
    Show me some love!

  4. I think it’s extremely shortsighted of a publisher (or anyone) to skimp on (or skip entirely) the cover. When I’m browsing online for ebooks, covers are one of the things that makes a book stand out within the search results. There’s some truth in that we look for books using data now… I search for a genre or a subject, and I sort by what has the best ratings, but once I’ve done that, I’m looking at the cover and the blurb. Cover even more than blurb in most cases; usually I read the blurb because of the cover.

    So I guess I’d say, as a reader, the cover is part of the data I look at when choosing a book.
    Show me some love!

  5. I am a complete cover whore too, and I adore your post. Great answer/rant lol.
    Here’s my Musing

  6. Amazing book shelves! I’m a bit of a cover snob.
    Show me some love!

  7. I recently read a piece from a reader who said that the cover and the title draw them to a book, next comes the blurb, but it is the cover that really catches their attention. I love good covers and think that they are a really important part of the publishing process. Long may they continue.

  8. At the risk of judging books by their covers… I totally do! If there is a weird or cheesy cover, I will be turned off. Especially when it comes to genre fiction. I’m always on the lookout for a good cover, and I will actively avoid books with bad covers. Same for ebooks. If you’ve written a good book but neglected your cover, you’re going to have a hard time selling it. As you say, covers are so reduced in size that we can instantly browse hundreds. Yours has to stand out from the crowd, so it’s more important than ever that it really look good.
    Show me some love!

  9. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Great answer!


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