9 Replies Latest reply on Apr 12, 2011 5:57 AM by javabird

    How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?

      How do you judge a book by it's cover when it doesn't have one?  With the popular rise of eBooks I suspect publishers will be placing much less emphasis on cover art.  There is still going to be a need for some sort of art work to promote on via internet store fronts, but since it will be digital and much less scrutinized I think the way of deeply artistic, rich and innovating cover art and design will wane exponentially.

       

      Drawing from my own eBook (NOOKbook for the nudnick who came up with that bit of retail ridiculousness) shopping experience,  I find Title is now the bigger draw to seeking out new books to read.  Obviously author will dictate purchases as well but a favorite author also trumps cover design as well.  Now it's all in the title to grab you.  A picture thumbnail is not going to grab you the way a glossy cover or large hardcover artwork would have on a shelf.

       

      I've not done any sort of official or unofficial research on the matter so I'd like to know if others may have noticed a decline in the quality of cover design over the past year.  Additionally do you think, or can specifically point out examples of, book titles are becoming more sensational or even more straight foreword?  Better yet (but a stretch I know) is there anyone out there in the industry that can give an insider answer to this question?

       

      To add a bit of sunshine to what may seem like a dreary reality, I think cover artists and designers will have a place to go.  The niche publishers are still going to need quality work to compete in the digital age.  Just as the 'mom and pop' bookstores are getting extremely niche to stay afloat and prosper in this market, the designers and artists will likely fall in with this trend.  Clearly that leaves less jobs but prosperous ones for those who fill the voids nicely. 

        • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?

          I don't think cover art is going anywhere.  In the digital age, I shop by cover as much as I do genre.  If i'm looking for a new book, the cover gets me interested to at least look at the content/review/synopsis.

           

          If the cover doesn't interest me, I'll probably pass it up.  I suspect most people are like this and the publishers know this.  I know I might be passing up a good book, but the publishers have about 1.5 seconds to get my interest my name and cover.  Otherwise, I'm on to the next book in a list of hundreds that I've done a search for.

           

          I personally think covers will see a resurgence in quality as the digital age advances.  It's not a bookstore anymore and they know their time is fleeting while offering their book online.  Hardcore covers will get attention and lame ones won't.

           

           

            • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?
              javabird

              An appealing cover is important to me. I want to see attractive cover art in my digital book collection....In fact, I think nice cover art may be even MORE important to me for ebooks. I didn't care as much with DTB's since they sit with the only the spine showing on my bookshelf. But my ebooks are always facing on my ebook shelves (Nook app, iBooks on my iPad) and I want to see nice covers.

               

              I'm also more likely to pass on an ebook with a lame cover, as it conveys an unprofessional image (and if the cover is not professional, then what does that say about the book? has it been poorly edited, or even edited at all? I'm not as likely to take a chance on an unknown author in this case).

               

               

                • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?

                  javabird wrote:

                  An appealing cover is important to me. I want to see attractive cover art in my digital book collection....In fact, I think nice cover art may be even MORE important to me for ebooks. I didn't care as much with DTB's since they sit with the only the spine showing on my bookshelf. But my eBooks are always facing on my eBook shelves (Nook app, eBooks on my iPad) and I want to see nice covers.

                   

                  I'm also more likely to pass on an eBook with a lame cover, as it conveys an unprofessional image (and if the cover is not professional, then what does that say about the book? Has it been poorly edited, or even edited at all? I'm not as likely to take a chance on an unknown author in this case).

                   

                   


                  Well I've been clearly outvoted thus far.  And the most important element of discussion is a counterpoint, so the dissension is very welcomed.  I'd like to use this voice of contention, javabird,  on which to further build my argument.

                   

                  You say, as have others, that not only is there NOT a decline in the quality of cover art/design but that in the eBook ages its even more important to you.  A few others have also shared a similar sentiment.  First off I would like to question if you own a NookColor or eInk Nook?  I own eInk Nook and the most prominence any book cover receives on the display is a thumbnail sized image on the small touch screen on the bottom.  Hardly a way to enjoy brilliant artistry.  I would ASSUME then that you are a NookColor owner and therefore I can only imagine a more full screen prominence of cover art. 

                   

                  If this is the case then more times then not haven't your already purchased the book?  I don't assume there is any way to appreciate the full sized version of the cover on the NookColor prior to purchase as you would if you were browsing books at a bookstore.  Again I'm not a Nook color owner so I can't comment to much on that subject.

                   

                  Now I don't know how people tend to shop for eBooks.  I still tend to do so over my PC and not my Nook.  Granted cover art is still a very integral part of the book shopping experience but picture quality is still going to be compromised given file size and space concerns.  As digital title increase, file space will become more and more a concern.  How much quality can one expect to have transferred in the small thumbnailish size that is allowable.  Perhaps smarter, simpler eye catching design is going to become king over more intricate and detailed art.

                   

                  Maybe, depending on how you view and interpret art, it could be argued that there wont be a decrease in quality so much as a SHIFT in focus. 

                   

                    • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?
                      javabird

                       


                      NJMetal wrote:

                      javabird wrote:

                      An appealing cover is important to me. I want to see attractive cover art in my digital book collection....In fact, I think nice cover art may be even MORE important to me for ebooks. I didn't care as much with DTB's since they sit with the only the spine showing on my bookshelf. But my eBooks are always facing on my eBook shelves (Nook app, eBooks on my iPad) and I want to see nice covers.

                       

                      I'm also more likely to pass on an eBook with a lame cover, as it conveys an unprofessional image (and if the cover is not professional, then what does that say about the book? Has it been poorly edited, or even edited at all? I'm not as likely to take a chance on an unknown author in this case).

                       

                       


                      Well I've been clearly outvoted thus far.  And the most important element of discussion is a counterpoint, so the dissension is very welcomed.  I'd like to use this voice of contention, javabird,  on which to further build my argument.

                       

                      You say, as have others, that not only is there NOT a decline in the quality of cover art/design but that in the eBook ages its even more important to you.  A few others have also shared a similar sentiment.  First off I would like to question if you own a NookColor or eInk Nook?  I own eInk Nook and the most prominence any book cover receives on the display is a thumbnail sized image on the small touch screen on the bottom.  Hardly a way to enjoy brilliant artistry.  I would ASSUME then that you are a NookColor owner and therefore I can only imagine a more full screen prominence of cover art. 

                       

                      If this is the case then more times then not haven't your already purchased the book?  I don't assume there is any way to appreciate the full sized version of the cover on the NookColor prior to purchase as you would if you were browsing books at a bookstore.  Again I'm not a Nook color owner so I can't comment to much on that subject.

                       

                      Now I don't know how people tend to shop for eBooks.  I still tend to do so over my PC and not my Nook.  Granted cover art is still a very integral part of the book shopping experience but picture quality is still going to be compromised given file size and space concerns.  As digital title increase, file space will become more and more a concern.  How much quality can one expect to have transferred in the small thumbnailish size that is allowable.  Perhaps smarter, simpler eye catching design is going to become king over more intricate and detailed art.

                       

                      Maybe, depending on how you view and interpret art, it could be argued that there wont be a decrease in quality so much as a SHIFT in focus. 

                       


                      Actually, I have an iPad, which displays color thumbnails. 

                       

                      As far as shopping, I tend to buy Nookbooks on my computer, but I shop for iBooks from my iPad. 

                       

                      I think it's an interesting subject. I recently read about a survey (sorry, don't remember where I saw it) which found most people choose their books based on recommendations by friends and the best-seller lists. I wonder how much that will change with ebooks.

                       

                      I grew up spending a LOT of time in libraries. The way I choose books was by browsing the shelves. If the title (on the spine) looked interesting, then I'd open it and look at the table of contents. I didn't really pay attention to book covers then. 

                  • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?

                     

                    Interesting subject..............

                    But I still value the cover art as much if not more so now that I buy almost exclusively ebooks.  Now that I can't actually pick up the book and flip through the pages, the thumbnail is what gets me and draws me in when I'm scrolling through pages of ebooks.  Titles grab me too, as well as author; but I'm a sucker for a great cover; actual of thumbnail.

                     

                  • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?
                    Critteranne

                    Cover art isn't going anywhere. It's an essential part of marketing, just like designing the package of toothpaste. In the bricks & mortar bookstore, when books are facing out, the first thing consumers see is usually the cover art. Even if the books are shelved with only the spine displaying, those spines have been designed with as much care as the covers.

                     

                    Years ago, one publishing company (Jove Books) experimented with generic novels called the No Frills books. They had plain black and white covers that simply said "Romance" or "Science fiction" or "Western" or "Mystery" -- with no authors credited. They had prominent displays in bookstores... yet they were a huge flop. OK, the No Frills books were an extreme example :smileyhappy:, but publishers realize that people want covers that catch their eye and tell them something about the story. Otherwise, people are reluctant to take a chance unless they have heard something about the author, and sometimes not even then.

                     

                    In the electronic bookstores, all books are facing out. People still see the covers. Publishers know that cover art is important. Readers often make fun of small electronic publishers (and indie authors) that tend to use bad cover art. The smart publishers know it's important. So do smart indie authors. Most advice about being an indie author emphasizes that you must have a cover.

                     

                    Edited to Add:

                    Here is more information about the No-Frills books. According to comments from insiders in the comments, they had almost no sales.

                      • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?
                        JohnP51

                        I will confess that the #1 thing that determines whether I'll try a book or not is the cover. I don't know why that is but it is. I'm drawn to certain colors and designs and if a book doesn't have a cover, I pass on by. But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.

                          • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?

                            Let's take a step back and review why a cover is important.

                             

                            The primary reason is to catch the attention of the reader to even look at the books contents.  Whether in a physical bookstore or online, if I'm searching 'mysteries', without having any idea what I want to read, I'll only look/click on the books that have a nice cover that interests me.

                             

                            If the cover is not interesting, I have to presume the book is not as well.  Kinda screwed up logic because one does not equate to the other.  Writers typically are not artists, as evidenced by the often horrid covers for pubit books. 

                             

                            In the McNow society, and the search formats of all major sites,  consumers give less than a second to a book.  It's the cover are that still, and always will, hook them to even give the book more consideration by clicking a link to view the synopsis.

                             

                            Nothing has changed from the bookstores, where people skimming also only look at a new title based primarily on the interest in the cover.

                             

                            You might not be able to judge a book by it's cover, but, while true, many people don't look at books that don't have an interesting cover to even see if they'd like it.

                             

                            And nothing will change in that regard.  In fact, I think covers will become much more important in the internet age when we have so much to view.  If I have a list of 4 thousand mysteries to peruse, I'm only going to click on the ones that have a neat cover (barring other user recommendations etc). 

                             

                            Since internet users skim, you need to catch their attention in less than a second.  Just yesterday I did a search and had 143 results.  I looked at two... primarily because the cover interested me.  I can't read all 143 reviews/synopsis.... so I have to pick and choose.  One I did like after clicking on it and the other I didn't.

                             

                            I think the above example is the reality of the internet age.  One only has a fleeting moment to hook a person to even look at their book.  And while art should really have nothing to do with the quality of the book, it's a sad reminder that even readers are very visual.

                             

                             

                            • Re: How Do You Judge A Book By It's Cover When It Doesn't Have One?
                              msmoonlite

                              My whole book buying process is COMPLETELY dependent on the cover art. If I see a book, whether its in a B&N store, another bookstore, or even in a magazine the first thing that catches my eye is the cover.

                               

                              Then I check to see if its available as an ebook, or I buy it from a bookstore if I decide I want to read it then put it on a shelf.

                               

                              Point is I couldn't imagine book sales for anyone (not just me) would go anywhere without some type of cover art.