Monday, June 18, 2012

The New Life of Covers: Musing Mondays

A Musing Mondays prompt from 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. Craig Mod's article, Hack the Cover: Covers, Covers--Everywhere, 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 see the future of book covers?