Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The new “cover paradigm”

I like that word. “Paradigm” makes you sound as if you really know what you’re talking about, doesn’t it? Whether I do or not, my post today (late as has been usual for the past while) is in response to Aline’s. Being the self-appointed guru on cover duty for Type M did you really expect anything else?

Let me start by saying that Aline is correct: as we move more towards e-books and away from paper, things will most definitely change, but I think she’s wrong when she posits that “the days of the persuasive cover are almost over”. I think they’re entering their golden age. Allow me to explain.

Book covers have always been the “poster” for the book. At their best they cry out, “Pick me up now! I’m something special.” (And at their worst they scream, “Step away from the book.”) Yes, when you look at that puny thumbnail of a book cover on retail websites (or just to the right of this post), covers are generally pretty underwhelming.

But with technology under the hood, as long as you can get a perspective customer to click on that cover, all sorts of wonderful and persuasive things can now happen (not that they are quite yet). In current usage, the cover just expands to something more readable. But there is a lot more they can do than get bigger. As Aline points out, covers can now be animated. They can also have effects attached. How about having that click link someone to the fantastic book trailer, the author’s website, an interview with the author, or really, any place on the Internet.

One idea I had recently is that an audio track could be attached (because they’re very small and quick loading). That track could be the author telling you something interesting about the book, or maybe someone reading a terrific scene that would make the listener just have to throw that e-book in their shopping cart. I think that would be very cool, wouldn’t it? And simple to do.

Not only that, e-books as well as paper books need to have that poster to at least get the deal moving, so at the start, book covers will look very much the same as they always have, and must have an effective design if they’re going to do their job.

It’s when you click on them that the fireworks will begin, and I’m looking forward to that.

And unfortunately, the Blogger.com software won’t let you link an image to an outside site, otherwise, the cover of my new novel would have sang “Libiamo ne' lieti calici” from La Traviata.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Rick, I have to agree. Covers are still critical for enticing a reader to download.

In the welter of books overwhelming the ebook marketplace it's getting so hard to attract attention. Surely a great cover will help.

Aline Templeton said...

I think what I'm worried about is that the gulf between the brilliant, exciting and expensive cover will grow and grow so that the good book without the huge technical investment will never have a chance, Rick. I buy on reputation and reviews myself and seldom on what the cover looks like but I have a feeling I'm in a diminishing minority.