I’ve been thinking about covers a lot recently. There are two main reasons for this: one, I just received permission to unveil the covers for my July release (they’re pretty, you can check them out HERE) and two, I received a kindle touch for Christmas and discovered that it only lists books without showing covers.
As authors, covers are a source of excitement and/or stress, largely because we have little or no say in them and yet covers are the first thing people see. A good cover conveys to the reader the genre of the book (and so what to expect and if it’s something that reader is looking for) while still standing out from other covers in that genre. Not a simple task, but the marketing and art departments are pretty good at what they do and most covers hit their intended target audience. But not all. That’s where the stress comes in. I know more than one author whose cover likely contributed to low sales–either because people didn’t know what to make of it, or (more often) it looked like the wrong genre so the target audience passed over without looking at it and the incorrect audience read the blurb and put it back on the shelf realizing it wasn’t for them. Because that’s how people found books–they browsed and looked for something to jump out at them.
But that is changing. More and more people are buying books online these days (both paper and e-book). And then there is e-ink. The nook shows covers, but of course they are small and in shades of grey. The kindle only shows covers if you hold down on the title, but even then, it doesn’t always show the cover–more than once I’ve had it show just the title on a blank book. If you’re a person who reads e-books and you shop from your e-ink reader, you may never see a cover in all its glory. And publishers know this. Books released only for e-book editions, (such as many novellas either being re-released after being in an anthology or that are supplemental to a series) often lack intricate covers. Many just have a nice font–I assume because, being e-editions they don’t require shelf appeal.
It makes me wonder if cover art will one day become obsolete. Of course, everyone is speculating about what will happen to books in the coming years. I personally think the dead tree version isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the popularity of e-books can’t be ignored. And the e-market drastically changes the game. I see it in my own buying habits. (I’ve had a nook for about 9 months–the kindle is new.) Despite the ability to read a sample, when shopping through the e-reader device, I rarely notice authors I’ve never heard of before, but stick to tried and true favorites. This is very different from how I shop in a brick and mortar store where I tend to wander, looking for something to POP and grab my attention.
So, I’m curious on your thoughts. Is a good cover losing its importance, or it it still what initially draws your attention? How do you find new books/authors? Do you use an e-reader device and have you noticed any change in your reading habits or how you find books?