How Book Covers Have to Evolve in the Digital Age
“As publishing adapts to changes in the technology of books, one area that still remains to adapt is the all-important cover art. Two unrelated articles today highlighted the serious considerations that authors and publishers need to make when designing the face that will ultimately help or hinder consumer purchases.
The first post, a piece for The New Yorker by Tim Kreider, looked at the evolution of book covers from their days as jewel-toned illustrations to the current minimalist approach of formulaic designs. Kreider’s piece took a stab at what seems like a requirement in book cover design on a genre-by-genre basis.
“The main principles of design—-in books, appliances, cars, clothing, everything-—are: 1. Your product must be bold and eye-catching and conspicuously different from everyone else’s, but 2. Not too much!” Kreider wrote of the often frustrating experience of traditional publishing’s cover concepts.
Apart from Kreider’s explanation, Alex Ingram wrote a more technologically-minded look at book covers for The Bookseller. In his explanation, the entire purpose of a book cover has changed, in accordance with the rise of digital publishing. Now, as consumers no longer have to rely on pacing the aisles of a physical bookstore and having a cover catch their eyes from a few shelves over, the artistic considerations of thumbnail-sized covers have to evolve as well.
“Looking at the cover of an e-book, it is usually just that of the paperback or hardback, though audiobooks have long had covers tweaked to their packaging,” wrote Ingram. “Good cover design both front and back is surely about fitting a strong set of information into a template both to encourage purchase and to encourage people to read a book. Yet publishers are making little or no adjustment to the cover and copy they are feeding into the digital retailers.””