Is a Picture Worth…Anything?

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I’m far enough along in writing my book, that I’ve begun to think about a title for publishing. (I’m using a working title, but it likely will not be the published title.) It’s a difficult task to come up with something fitting, catchy, and marketable. For writers expecting to use a traditional publisher your first time out, be aware you may not have any input in the decision on title or cover design. However, if you are self-publishing, you should read the thoughts on the importance of a book cover written by an agent to whose blog I subscribe, Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. I hope that the near future brings a solution to the glitch Rachelle discovered while reading a book on her Kindle. Rachelle’s blog is one that I read religiously, as she always has important views  and information on writing, agenting and publishing. Please enjoy this repost from Rachelle:

Ode to the Book Cover

Last week I had a little epiphany that made me just the teensiest bit less enthusiastic about e-books as the primary delivery method for books in the future.I’d been reading The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin on my Kindle. Then Joyce did a guest post for me and in the course of putting up her post, I perused her website and blog, and looked up her books on Amazon.

When I saw her book covers, I realized that although I’d already been reading the book, I’d never actually seen the cover. Don’t know why, I just hadn’t.

And as I looked at her book cover, I realized that if I’d seen it before I ever started reading the book, I’d have had a better feel for the book right from the beginning. I would have understood something about the tone and the feel of the book. I’d have known what kind of book I was reading. I’d have context.

That book cover—that picture—may not have been worth about a thousand words, but close.

And it hit me once again in a whole new way that when we go to strictly digital books, we’re losing something. I won’t talk about all the things we’re losing and gaining (because I know it’s a trade off and I do love ebooks), but this one thing is enough to give me pause. Book covers are a whole art form unto themselves. There are people who are incredibly talented at this exact art form—creating a visual design that sets a tone and prepares a reader for the words within the cover. How sad to think that we may be moving to an era where far less effort will be expended on actual “cover design.”

It’s not just that we “judge a book by it’s cover”—it’s more than that. The cover design tells us at a glance information that it would take several minutes (or more) to get in words. It can do this on a subconscious level, too, helping us to instantly recognize books that are “for us” and reject the ones that aren’t.

I can only hope that with the iPad and other technologies that have the capacity to show a beautiful image with clarity and definition, that book covers won’t become a thing of the past but will simply be viewed in a new way. And I hope publishers continue to put a priority on quality cover design, because no matter whether it’s viewed on paper or digitally, I believe the cover of a book is an integral and important part of the whole reading experience.

What do you think Kindle should do about this, if anything? How important do you feel seeing the cover of a book is to your purchase or your reading pleasure?
Please feel free to comment, as I love hearing from all of you! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog so you don’t have to go looking for my posts — you can get them in your email!

2 thoughts on “Is a Picture Worth…Anything?

  1. Thanks for commenting and visiting! I was so torn between a Kindle and a Nook, ended up with a Kindle for the price. I still have ereader envy whenever I see someone with a color Nook!
    I’m just finishing up a short story and if it doesn’t compromise getting it published, I will submit to your blog. thanks for the offer! In the meantime, I’ll come over and read what you have posted!

  2. I have a nook color. The thing I love about it is that every book has a cover and I can see it color. Before I purchase a book, I always browse the covers, summaries, and reader reviews. I too think a cover is pretty important. In fact, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve my share of book based on great covers.

    Hey, don’t know if you’re interested in sharing any of your fiction, but The Domestic Fringe is hosting Fiction Friday every week. It’s a place where writers can share a piece of fiction and get some feedback. Last week was great. Here’s the link. Hope you’ll join us tomorrow! I think we’ll have even more writers sharing their works.

    Thanks for a great post!

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