11 August 2014

Monday Musings: Cover art whiplash


When looking at books, does the cover draw your eye first?

If so, you're like me and many other readers out there. Not that we're judging the book (i.e. content) by the cover, but if that art is appealing, we're probably going to check it out.

With the explosion of eBooks, a lot more covers are being produced. Whether the digital title is Indie or traditionally published, the chosen cover image is important to help that book stand out from all the rest.

Coming from the time of the pre-digital revolution, I remember when covers were unique. Photoshoots arranged, artists commissioned, graphic artists charged with creating truly unique designs.


Now, however, many authors and publishers are using stock images - usually royalty free - to create their tempting covers. There is nothing at all wrong with this practice, in fact it's really fun to cruise through these various free stock image sites and see what's out there.

However, that initial book look that I was mentioning before gets a bit confused. Very confused. As quite a few of the same stock images are being chosen to adorn the covers of different authors and titles within the same genre. As none of these images are exclusive, that's going to happen. However, as a reader and consumer it's incredibly confusing.

Why?

Well, when I see a book cover that I know I've purchased (I have a very visual memory), I'm going to skip over that title and look for another one. Then a lightbulb will dawn and I'll scroll back up to see that, no, it's not the same book, it's just the same couple, in the same pose, for a different title and author.


It's become a game for me - and for many other readers, bloggers, and critics - to begin to make mental lists of when we've seen the image and or models before.

Notice that none of these covers are exactly alike. The graphic designers are able to make distinctions in background, hair color, flipping orientation, but yep, the models and poses are pretty much the same.

Then there are the titles that keep changing the cover image - perhaps to better reflect the story or to rebrand a series in a unified way. I'll stop my scrolling through the category lists as I'll see a favorite author's name, click through and see I've already purchased the book, but I don't remember it. Because the cover is different.

Luckily, as I primarily purchase books at Amazon, I receive that warning. Thanks, Amazon! So, I'm quite careful if I go to another site like Kobo (when they provide those fabulous discount codes) that I'm not going to duplicate a purchase. Because I can no longer rely on my visual memory as the covers may have changed not once, but sometimes multiple times since I made the initial purchase.

Recently I've seen a few authors post on Facebook about photoshoots they've arranged for book covers. I applaud this. I really do!

Other authors may choose images that are more abstract, but still connected with the title, and aren't as likely to be reused. I applaud this too!

Yes, there's nothing like a cute couple to enliven your book cover and make it appealing to readers like me to purchase. But be careful when selecting the image - especially around the holidays. As your book may be confused with a few others with very similar cover images.



Look how Santa gets around :)

What image, model, or trend have you noticed popping up frequently on the book covers you look at?