Musing Mondays (June 18)

This week’s musing…

I 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.ย 

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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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 โ€œthroughโ€ the cover to get to the text. Do that five times and you’ll never forget the title or author.”

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

“…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.”

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

“If so much of what book cover design has evolved into is largely a brick-and-mortar marketing tool, then what place does a โ€˜coverโ€™ 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?ย 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) โ€” 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?

My answer: I’ve always said I’m a “cover junkie”. I’m drawn to books because of their covers. So, if a book doesn’t have a cover, what are people like me to do? Read the blurb, I guess. And, while I do still read the blurb (description) to find out more about a book, I still rely very heavily on covers. The cover is what draws me in, first, then the description… and then I make my decision. Sometimes reviews by others factor into that choice, too — if the cover and description weren’t enough to persuade me.

But, I’m still a “covers” girl.

The article says that we now tend to hunt “data” when we are buying books… but that’s not fully true, for me, anyway. 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.

I especially like that first quote, above. With a print book, you have to go “through” the cover to get to the story, and if you do it enough times, you don’t forget. Especially if you are a “visual” type of person like me. I can picture covers in my minds’ eye, so again, they’re very important to me.

I have a Kobo eReader, and one of the things that drives me nuts is when I’m reading a book on there that either has a very plain cover (just text, no pictures), or it has a picture on the cover, but the effect is lost due to the change from what was meant to be color, to black-and-white. It loses something when it’s just black-and-white.

My thinking is, those who are designing for e-books could create a cover that is unique to the digital version — something that works well in black-and-white but still gives the reader some “eye candy”… something to remember the book by.

I really liked the bit in the article about Oliver Sacks’ book covers — a series of books with covers that, when you put them all together on a page (or, on an app screen on an eReader), you see a whole picture — 6 covers turn into one. This can even encourage the collection of the series, so that you have the full picture!

The article goes on to say, {“To treat an entire book as a cover means to fold the typographic and design love usually reserved for covers into everything. Type choices. Illustration styles. Margins and page balance.“} I still don’t think this is enough, though. It’s an interesting idea, but, I still want my actual cover. Am I being childish and whiny? Maybe. But I think I’m not alone in wanting to keep my covers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I honestly could go on-and-on — ย there are so many ideas touched on in this article! Maybe I’ll continue this topic in a future MM. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, for now, that’s my take on things.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your answer in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

30 thoughts on “Musing Mondays (June 18)

  1. I spent a LONG time writing my response, and I see not many have responded yet! I HOPE we get more. I agree with everything you have to say today MzB! I think my own post is very similar, Funny I did not read your response first, I went and read the article and ended up responding to most of what you posted the same way!

    ANYWAY Here is my MUSING MONDAYS

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  2. Ohw ow, that is such a great article!! I am not particularly nuts about covers, aside from noting that they are an integral part of any book, and I can’t imagine reading a book without one!!
    LOVE the first quote – so true, thats the best way to remember the author ๐Ÿ™‚
    Also, for some books in a series with similar design elements on the cover (like the shoe in lauren weisberger’s novels, or the Twlight series, or the LOTR ring) I instantly know that a new never-seen-before book belongs in that series.

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  3. I so agree with you. The cover is definitely what initially draws me to a book. If I like the cover, I’ll read the synopsis and go from there. I totally ignore books without a cover.

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