E-books will "blow apart" cover design

E-books are set to "blow apart" cover design, with designers looking to create "identity packages" that can work for both print and digital editions, The Bookseller Cover Design Conference 2011 was told.

Marketing strategist Damian Horner, chairing the recent event held at the British Library, said publishers' current approach—of replicating a book's printed cover online with review quotes and design flourishes—does not work in the digital sales environment.

Horner recommended that publishers should instead consider a cover's digital impact, dropping text entirely in favour of a distinctive "icon" that can transfer to social media like Twitter; good examples of this were Caroline Lawrence's The Case of the Deadly Desperados, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and David Nicholls' One Day.

Horner said the online blurb will have to convey all the information a cover cannot communicate in that environment, including the book's title and reviews. Publishers will need to embark on the "whole new discipline" of search engine optimising e-book blurbs.

Meanwhile, Alex Miles Younger, creative director of The Domino Project, the Seth Godin imprint for Amazon, said designers should "create identity packages for stories", meaning they could be adapted into different designs for different editions, such as collectors' editions and paperbacks. He said: "As the number of formats increase we will design more . . . And it will be about how component pieces of the design can be used elsewhere."

Horner predicted an "explosion of new creative thinking ahead" as designers learned to play to the different strengths of the different mediums they would be working in, from lavish hardback editions created as works of art, to icons that function in social media.