June 19, 2012

Evolution of Book Covers

Yesterday on my Mom in Love with Fiction site, my blog devoted to good reads, I discussed the evolution of book covers in an eBook-focused world. I wanted to run the post here today to get additional feedback, since I find the subject so fascinating.

My thoughts were prompted by a Musing Mondays question on Should be Reading: Do you think the book cover is “dead”? Do you care whether the “covers” on digital books exist or not?

I've been pondering this subject for awhile. Should be Reading referenced Craig Mod's article, Hack the Cover: Covers, Covers--Everywhere. It offered some amazing insight on how the popularity of eBooks has affected the marketing importance of book covers.

Let's be honest, covers were an important marketing tool in bookstores. When readers browsed, the cover was their first impression of a book. A striking cover could compel me to pick up any book, taking away any preconceived notions I had about what I liked and didn't like in story or genre. A great cover backed up by a wonderful back cover summary was all I needed.

Fast forward to the Amazon world of eBooks and online shopping. Now I browse by genres and authors I like. Then I go to the book's page and notice the cover. Sure, I'm still influenced by the cover's allure, but it's not my first impression anymore unless I'm standing in Barnes & Noble or my favorite independent bookstore,
Novel Places, close to my house.

Once I purchase an eBook, the cover is gone. I choose the title on my home page and go right to the first page of the book. The cover is gone from my memory and has little influence on my imagination. Every time I pick up an actual book to read, I see the cover and its images affect my mental picture of the characters and/or scenery.

But like all things, does the cover just need to catch up to technology? Jump over to
Craig's article for some amazing pictures on old-style, possibly future-style, book covers. We just need the hardware to catch up so that digital covers are still what we see and part of the reading experience.

I say... long live covers. I hope they stay around but evolve with the books they so lovingly adorn. Otherwise, we might as well go back to Kinko's-printed manuscripts or Microsoft Word documents and read words without the beauty and visual.

And who wants that?

How do you imagine the future of book covers?


Eloise said...

I've thought about this, and how covers strike me now when I see them on my Nook. Given that they are only tiny representations of the book cover, some of them don't have the same impact as they would if looking at the book itself. I think they will need to be simplified to stand out. Less dark areas, fewer small details and a font that doesn't shrink to nothing online.

Unfortunate that this needs to change, but I think it does. I've almost bypassed books that were good reads because the cover was close to incomprehensible online.

Julie Glover said...

I am still influenced by covers, even if they are seen as a small image on an e-reader. A bad cover will discourage my purchase of a book. For instance, a self-pubbed title where the author clearly threw together a quick cover makes me wonder what care was taken with the inside of the book. However, a fabulous cover can increase my interest in the story and make me click away on the BUY button.

Covers do need to be considered in terms of how they will look on a bookshelf and as a small image for an ebook. Text and photos may need to be less detailed so that they can be clearly seen on a screen. But I think covers will stick around because people are visual too.

Unknown said...

Eloise, Excellent points. I'm sure the Nook (color, right?) is different than my older Kindle (all B&w).

Julie, I agree. I'm visual and want covers, but like books have had to do, they will need to evolve. I'm looking forward to seeing what this means.

Melissa said...

I hope covers continue. I look forward to the day when I have framed versions of my book covers on my wall.... lol

Designers of ebooks may need to be more creative with how they incorporate the artwork of the book cover into the pages or something like that.... It will be interesting to see what happens.

Jo Michaels said...

I think covers should not go anywhere but that they should adapt to the digital age. Larger titles should be a staple and beautiful imagery that translates well to black and white should dominate. Well said. WRITE ON!

Unknown said...

Melissa, Me, too. I love the idea of framed book covers.

Jo, I agree about adapting.