Books and Publishing in the Digital Age
Choosing a book cover is an important decision. When browsing through bookstores and libraries, sometimes a book’s cover can entice you to reach for it or it can cause you to avert your eyes. The challenge of creating cover art that accurately captures the theme of the story has attracted the industry’s best designers. A book designer is now included in the list of people to be thanked in an author’s Booker acceptance speech. The attention that is being paid to book designs could help the publishing industry draw attention to the unique and physical format that ebooks do not offer.
Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, generated publicity for her newest novel through a crowdsourced book cover endeavor. Unable to reach an agreement with her publishers on a cover for her upcoming novel The Signature of All Things, Gilbert took the problem to those she knew would have an opinion on the cover art: her fans. Gilbert used her Facebook fan page to ask fans to select their favorite cover out of the three options shown. The winning cover would be used for the American publication of her novel. Luckily for Gilbert, her readers chose the one she liked the best.
As ebooks continue to threaten the sales of physical books, publishers have made considerable efforts towards the design of book covers. The idea is that a physical book when accompanied by a lovely and artistic cover can itself be viewed as a work of art. A burnable edition of Fahrenheit 451 or a clever copy of 1984 would look great on any bookshelf or nightstand. Beautiful and interesting book covers offer artwork that encourages readers to make the connection by engaging with the content in the story.
Fan-designed book covers have also gained popularity and demonstrated the readers’ love of their favorite books. For many readers the cover art becomes another way to express the themes and meanings of the story through a visual representation.
The spark of creativity that can be found through cover art will peak readers’ interest in the books. Publishers understand that book designs have to quickly grab a reader’s and bookseller’s attention. A striking design can also influence other print publications to praise the book and encourage their own readers to purchase the intriguing design.
As readers continue to enjoy and be inspired by spectacular cover art, perhaps the increased production of beautifully designed book covers can help print books remain distinguished from their digital formats.