What role do cover designs play in today’s digital world? As Craig Mod points out they are not even a necessary part of an e-book as covers were originally intended to protect the physical book, in order for it to be possible to read it many times over. A digital version needs no such protection. The cover can therefore be skipped, which it frequently is, as for example on Kindle where it has not been designed in (or where it gets automatically skipped over in order to get the reader to the first page of the first chapter). So why are covers still being designed for digital media? Why are covers not “dead” by now?
It’s simple, really. There are approximately 130.000 books published yearly in the UK alone (Nielsen, 2009). High street stores are shutting down. The bookstores that are left have only so much shelf space. And yet, though the sale of printed books is declining, people are still reading. Consumers may visit high street stores to view books, even if they end up buying them online afterwards. Online, where customers are able to take a digital look before purchasing, the same principle applies: the need to grab their attention, and that applies to both the physical book and the e-book. But how do marketers encourage buyers to choose their books over the competition?
There are many deciding factors when considering book buying. Nowadays people get suggestions based on what they have already read or bought. They read customers reviews. Before digital media however, they often made decisions based on the book cover, which could determine if they read the blurb or not.
It can be questioned whether or not that is still the case. In the meantime however, publishers are still producing covers, hoping that they will help to sell books, just in a different way. Now they must take into account where and how the cover will be viewed and make alterations accordingly. Some things to consider are: how a cover will look as a thumbnail, that the look and typography must work in all sizes (the text may be larger, the colours sharper), that some (or perhaps all) covers must now work both digitally and physically.
The cover may not be a necessary part of, at least e-books, but they are still being used as a marketing tool regardless, making them just as relevant as they have ever been. In this blog I will therefore take a look at how covers, that are very much alive (at least so far) have changed in recent years in order to make an impact on customers in a digital age. For the purpose of this project I will pick 8 of my favorite novels (across genres and publishers for diversity) in order to research how they have been represented on covers in the past, and in the current digital landscape.