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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.
 

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We should always be addressing 'Identity' in publishing. Cover design is one area of application.

I disagree completely. For instance, on Kindle it is only black & white 'cover' you get to see at the END of the book. What you see is a small window 1"x1" on amazon. The type of cover won't influence me - its content. If I wanted a pretty cover, I'd buy a hardcopy.

Gemma,

While it is a good idea to make sure that your cover looks good as greyscale image, as many Kindle owners shop exclusively through their devices, that shouldn't preclude a colour design.

One of the most popular e-readers in the US is the Nook Color. Amazon will be bringing out a colour tablet (and possibly a phone) in September.

There are already 25m (full colour) iPads and 100m iPhones out there. Those numbers will grow too.

While the covers are often seen as small thumbnails (and the design should reflect that), they are also seen in larger sizes on the product page and in promo for the book.

Dave

As you can see by the cover of my novel "Dark Matter Heart" (http://amzn.to/DMHKindle) I've already been incorporating this concept. There are a number of separate elements while all different, reflect the overall "brand". The "black heart" will be the primary graphic on the "special edition" while the boy in the hoodie and the title will be used on a variety of icons, badges and merch.

And it looks great in the B&W kindle.

Argh! Everyone, please, STOP WRITING VAMPIRE FICTION. Or at least stop plugging it on the Bookseller.

1) Why?
2) Wasn't plugging it. Was simply showing an example of the article's concept in practice.

The point of the cover is not to look nice once you have bought the book, but to make you want to find out more about a book that you haven't yet bought. That means it doesn't matter what it looks like on the reading device so much as how it appears on the web page, especially in thumbnail form.

For digital purchasing, covers need to stand out when in a list of bestsellers or "recommended for you" lists that are presented to the customer. The goal is to present something that attracts readers to click on the image and read the synopsis. The best looking covers need to have a stiking image that is clearly visible even at the thumbnail size as well as a legible title and author name.

What about colour illustrations? Or, for instance, a book such as House of Leaves that uses various colours of typeface? How would that work on the Kindle?

Until Amazon brings out the colour Kindle, eBook readers are basically still in prototype stage: ie. we don't yet have a reader that is adequately readable in direct sunlight and displays in full colour in the same way that... well... a real book would.

I've been tempted to buy an eReader simply because my shelves are already too crammed and this means that I can continue to buy books that are worth it the hardcover format and buy the rest cheaply in a format that won't take up valuable shelf-space. However, I'm going to have to wait and see what the colour Kindle is like first.

I imagine that cover design will be affected by e-books the same way print has been affected by blogs. It really increases the possibilities.

They say 'don't judge a book by its cover' mainly because people do and often misled by it!

It says something to us: get creative, cover designers! You are still needed for years to come.

All book designers should be designing for the future, not for what we have now. As well as iPads and iPhones, there are many PC and Mac users who have downloaded the kindle app.

A cover needs to work harder when it's for an e-reader. People have talked about impact from a smaller size. Also, is it necessary to have the title and author's name when it's going to be in the headline alongside?

Try to think of it as more of a favicon representing the 'brand' of the book. If you don't think it is necessary to have a cover which has a high impact and in colour, when appropriate, then you will be left behind.

You don't just have to accept and always be reactive to technological changes. We should be the ones who are driving the change.

Regards

Steve Walsh
CEO Pyjama Press

I, too, have been wrestling with cover design and I happen to be a cover designer. I am fully cognizant that Kindle is limited with regard to the use of color, yet I keep the covers consistent. Why? Because I have more respect for readers who like book covers no matter where they are seen. I don't feel the need to reduce the covers down to just the title and author's name, no matter how tempted I am to do so. I think it's just overthinking the whole process to keep trying to second guess the reading public.

As for vampires, they will never go away. There are a lot of elements to the vampire as a character that are intriguing. It's not always about "sparkle" (I hate that word) or blood. Immortality can be both a blessing and a curse, but that is all part of the human condition. I use the foil of the vampire as a being who enjoys the privilege of seeing history unfold before him/her as an eyewitness and sometime participant. The standard has already been done to death in the form of a person living in that time. Vampires learn to survive in whatever environment they find themselves in, so one can never claim to be bored.

We should always be addressing 'Identity' in publishing. Cover design is one area of application.

I disagree completely. For instance, on Kindle it is only black & white 'cover' you get to see at the END of the book. What you see is a small window 1"x1" on amazon. The type of cover won't influence me - its content. If I wanted a pretty cover, I'd buy a hardcopy.

Gemma,

While it is a good idea to make sure that your cover looks good as greyscale image, as many Kindle owners shop exclusively through their devices, that shouldn't preclude a colour design.

One of the most popular e-readers in the US is the Nook Color. Amazon will be bringing out a colour tablet (and possibly a phone) in September.

There are already 25m (full colour) iPads and 100m iPhones out there. Those numbers will grow too.

While the covers are often seen as small thumbnails (and the design should reflect that), they are also seen in larger sizes on the product page and in promo for the book.

Dave

The point of the cover is not to look nice once you have bought the book, but to make you want to find out more about a book that you haven't yet bought. That means it doesn't matter what it looks like on the reading device so much as how it appears on the web page, especially in thumbnail form.

For digital purchasing, covers need to stand out when in a list of bestsellers or "recommended for you" lists that are presented to the customer. The goal is to present something that attracts readers to click on the image and read the synopsis. The best looking covers need to have a stiking image that is clearly visible even at the thumbnail size as well as a legible title and author name.

What about colour illustrations? Or, for instance, a book such as House of Leaves that uses various colours of typeface? How would that work on the Kindle?

Until Amazon brings out the colour Kindle, eBook readers are basically still in prototype stage: ie. we don't yet have a reader that is adequately readable in direct sunlight and displays in full colour in the same way that... well... a real book would.

I've been tempted to buy an eReader simply because my shelves are already too crammed and this means that I can continue to buy books that are worth it the hardcover format and buy the rest cheaply in a format that won't take up valuable shelf-space. However, I'm going to have to wait and see what the colour Kindle is like first.

As you can see by the cover of my novel "Dark Matter Heart" (http://amzn.to/DMHKindle) I've already been incorporating this concept. There are a number of separate elements while all different, reflect the overall "brand". The "black heart" will be the primary graphic on the "special edition" while the boy in the hoodie and the title will be used on a variety of icons, badges and merch.

And it looks great in the B&W kindle.

Argh! Everyone, please, STOP WRITING VAMPIRE FICTION. Or at least stop plugging it on the Bookseller.

1) Why?
2) Wasn't plugging it. Was simply showing an example of the article's concept in practice.

I imagine that cover design will be affected by e-books the same way print has been affected by blogs. It really increases the possibilities.

They say 'don't judge a book by its cover' mainly because people do and often misled by it!

It says something to us: get creative, cover designers! You are still needed for years to come.

All book designers should be designing for the future, not for what we have now. As well as iPads and iPhones, there are many PC and Mac users who have downloaded the kindle app.

A cover needs to work harder when it's for an e-reader. People have talked about impact from a smaller size. Also, is it necessary to have the title and author's name when it's going to be in the headline alongside?

Try to think of it as more of a favicon representing the 'brand' of the book. If you don't think it is necessary to have a cover which has a high impact and in colour, when appropriate, then you will be left behind.

You don't just have to accept and always be reactive to technological changes. We should be the ones who are driving the change.

Regards

Steve Walsh
CEO Pyjama Press

I, too, have been wrestling with cover design and I happen to be a cover designer. I am fully cognizant that Kindle is limited with regard to the use of color, yet I keep the covers consistent. Why? Because I have more respect for readers who like book covers no matter where they are seen. I don't feel the need to reduce the covers down to just the title and author's name, no matter how tempted I am to do so. I think it's just overthinking the whole process to keep trying to second guess the reading public.

As for vampires, they will never go away. There are a lot of elements to the vampire as a character that are intriguing. It's not always about "sparkle" (I hate that word) or blood. Immortality can be both a blessing and a curse, but that is all part of the human condition. I use the foil of the vampire as a being who enjoys the privilege of seeing history unfold before him/her as an eyewitness and sometime participant. The standard has already been done to death in the form of a person living in that time. Vampires learn to survive in whatever environment they find themselves in, so one can never claim to be bored.