Monday, July 18, 2011

Judging a Book by Its Cover

I often like things that look lovely in a set. I confess to having all my Harry Potter books (both British and American editions, because I'm strange like that) lined up on a single shelf, so that one can admire the simple perfection in two sets of seven matching spines (and the snitch that serves a a bookend). I love attention to cover design that puts all of an authors' titles in similar covers so that I can find them easily, and I've been known despite my broke-grad-student status to replace books in order to have a matching set.

Last month, we had a little promo table at the store with trade paperback editions of all of the novels of Emily Giffin, in honor of the film release of Something Borrowed. St. Martin's did a lovely re-release of all four backlist titles and the new paperback of Heart of the Matter in honor of the film release, and they have these wonderfully simple covers in coordinating pastels. As a group, they look pretty stunning. The table was at the top of one of the escalators and next to the booksellers' desk, and so I often wandered past it, straightening the copies and making a point to enter a warehouse order any time we run out of one of the titles.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Similar Covers

My epublishing rant of the day--try not to have a cover that looks almost identical to a cover of another book put out by the same house.

Today I got an email notification about a publishing house I follow. The latest book in the lineup, by an author I know from message boards, looks almost identical to a book published by another author six weeks ago. They have similar font and font color for the title, a similar font for the author's name, and both are black covers with a single, drop-shadowed photography element (stock, I'm guessing) about in the center. In both cases, very little about the book is shown by the cover, which is also a problem, but that's an argument for a different day. However, the end result is that the new book looks as if it is perhaps the second in a series to the first book, and I know this not to be the case.

Covers matter. Similar covers mean similar content. When you see a James Patterson novel, it looks like every other James Patterson novel, and there's a reason for that. It screams to the buyer, "Similar book." The same is true of how books in a given genre often look the same, and why you'll find the greatest variety in cover design browsing the "fiction" shelves of the bookstore instead of the "mystery" "romance" "sci fi" shelves.

A good cover designer and an experienced house will know this, and they will make sure this doesn't happen (I can't count how many times we turned down covers because they were too similar to others in our lineup). But with some of the less-experienced e-presses, it may benefit an author to double-check this herself. 
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