Which book cover artist/s do you like?

Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

I wondered about this after watching a documentary about the late great Terry Pratchett, and an artist by the name of Paul Kidby was included. He did a lot of the art for Terry, but what I like most about Paul is he does art based on Terry's stories even if they are never used in the stories or for Terry's covers. He just does it for fun! At times cover artists are never even credited so it's not always easy to find out who did what, thankfully Paul is. One interesting point is that Paul often read Terry's works while they were being written and would paint his idea of what the characters etc looked like as Terry worked on them, and Terry liked the art so much he would add to or change the descriptions in his books.

 

http://www.paulkidby.com/paintings/

 

I like Chris Foss also.

 

http://www.chrisfossart.com/

 

Tim White.

 

http://www.angelfire.com/realm/anthrax/tim.html

 

And others.

 

You may notice a pattern with even just those? Apart from them being exceptionally skilled artists, most of what they do is 99% imagination with little to base what they paint on.

Comments

  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor Professor

    It's a good topic.

     

    If I had to choose it would be Tim White.

     A citizen of the world.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Thanks for the reply Smiley Happy    I was expecting more  Smiley Frustrated

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    George Salter

     

    Milton Glaser

     

    Roy Kuhlman

     

    James Avati

     

    Robert McGinnis

     

    ...for starters

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Paul_LuluPaul_Lulu Admin Admin

    I have to admit to being a bit of Kidby fan, discovering him from reading Pratchett. 

     

    Most interesting about him is that I don't actually like the style for book covers as much - I tend to like simple designs and muted styles for book art, and these artists seem like more the kind of art I would hang on the wall.

     

    I get that your cover sells your book and all, but I just am more drawn to simple designs/patterns.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    Paul_Lulu wrote:

    I have to admit to being a bit of Kidby fan, discovering him from reading Pratchett. 

     

    Most interesting about him is that I don't actually like the style for book covers as much - I tend to like simple designs and muted styles for book art, and these artists seem like more the kind of art I would hang on the wall.

     

    I get that your cover sells your book and all, but I just am more drawn to simple designs/patterns.


    I couldn't agree more with your last comment.

     

    Simplicity really is the key to an effective book cover.

     

    Covers have to get their message across in a split second, since a potential reader may only give it a brief glance before passing along to the next book. In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book. Better yet, it will get the potential reader to pause in their browsing. If it does even just that, it has succeeded.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    That's interesting Ron because none seem to be newer covers then the 1960s. What about contemporary cover designers?

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Paul_Lulu wrote:

    I have to admit to being a bit of Kidby fan, discovering him from reading Pratchett. 

     

    Most interesting about him is that I don't actually like the style for book covers as much - I tend to like simple designs and muted styles for book art, and these artists seem like more the kind of art I would hang on the wall.

     

    I get that your cover sells your book and all, but I just am more drawn to simple designs/patterns.


    With Kidby's work you can also hang it on walls Paul   Smiley Happy

     

    So, which cover would attract your eye first? This >

     

    8d308de76f7f866103d7eb452b34d4b6f0d0450cba4f647ef180559a.jpg (134×199)

     

    Or this >>   His_Dark_Materials_(Scholastic_collected_ed.)_Front_cover.jpg (125×191)

     

    For a start I would guess it all depends on the type of book one is looking for. Or a person could simply only be looking for the writer's name. Philip Pullman, as an example, could possibly nowadays not need an illustration on his book covers. Personally I like S Fiction and Fantasy and usually the covers for such make it obvious that they are, but I also go for the names on them.

     

    To be fair here's a non-SF cover.  Would your eye go to this before the Eygpt one?

     

    1097444.jpg (100×165)

     

     

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Simplicity really is the key to an effective book cover.

     

    Sales of books perhaps do not agree with you there.

     

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/6825584/Amazon-top-10-best-selling-books-of-the-decade.html

     

    Covers have to get their message across in a split second,

     

    I would not disagree with that, but only for new writers' books that may not have had a lot of marketing behind them. Then again, while looking at a page full of books, the page is looked at for far longer than a second, so therefore so are the covers on it.

     

    since a potential reader may only give it a brief glance before passing along to the next book. In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book.

     

    They are no longer only displayed on the shelves in stores with only the spine showing. Take a look at this >> https://www.amazon.com/Books/b/ref=sv_b_3/152-2939975-6543366?ie=UTF8&node=549028

     

    But do you not look at who wrote it first? Or the subject matter? And all you need to do is click on any and there's a Preview or even a bit of it in audio, then a load of reviews and stars, etc etc. There's also places like this >>   https://www.goodreads.com/     there are far more options nowadays for finding out about books.

     

    In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book. Better yet, it will get the potential reader to pause in their browsing. If it does even just that, it has succeeded.

     

    There's the availability of so much media nowadays to promote or get to hear about books, that perhaps covers are becoming irrelevant? And now there's things like this >>   http://www.audible.co.uk/?tmplaceref=ENGINE&tmad=c&tmcampid=17&tmclickref=audible&Source_code=M2M30DFT1BkSH11201400LW

     

    Run your mouse over an image and you get a full description and more. Granted there is an an image, but it is small, but even so if you click on one you get far more information than you do on a book cover, and being digital there is no actual cover.

     

    Don't get me wrong, I like book covers on actual real books, but things have changed.

  • Paul_LuluPaul_Lulu Admin Admin

    kevinlomas wrote:

    With Kidby's work you can also hang it on walls Paul


    Indeed, I actually bought a print for my brother - bigger Pratchett fan than me - for a birthday some years back.

     

    Overall, I think my eye is drawn to the Pullman cover most, even though it is the most complex of the covers. Could be a bit of bias, as I recognize the book.

     

    But on second glance, I'm most interested in 'Egypt' because the minimal design of the cover makes me want to know more. The other two are revealing something in the cover, while the simple one reveals nothing and prompts me to flip the book over and read the blurb.

     

    Still, I do have to admit Pullman's draws my eye the most of the three. 

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    kevinlomas wrote:

    Simplicity really is the key to an effective book cover.

     

    Sales of books perhaps do not agree with you there.

     

    Actually, they do. You may pull out a counterexample of some best-selling author's book, but in cases such as those---as in the Erle Stanley Gardner/Perry Mason book cover you showed earlier, they tend to depend on the name value as a brand.

     

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/6825584/Amazon-top-10-best-selling-books-of-the-decade.html

     

    Covers have to get their message across in a split second,

     

    I would not disagree with that, but only for new writers' books that may not have had a lot of marketing behind them. Then again, while looking at a page full of books, the page is looked at for far longer than a second, so therefore so are the covers on it.

     

    True, but when you are looking at an entire page full of covers you are not seeing the individual books. You are looking at a page full of covers. If you take an additional moment to single out two or three covers it is because those succeeded in catching your eye.

     

    since a potential reader may only give it a brief glance before passing along to the next book. In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book.

     

    They are no longer only displayed on the shelves in stores with only the spine showing. Take a look at this >> https://www.amazon.com/Books/b/ref=sv_b_3/152-2939975-6543366?ie=UTF8&node=549028

     

    I'm not sure what your point is. Or even that you are not contradicting yourself. For instance, here you seem to be arguing that displaying the face of a book is the best thing to do...while a couple of paragraphs below you would seem to be suggesting that the idea thing for Audible would be to just publish a list of titles and blurbs and nothing else.

     

    But do you not look at who wrote it first? Or the subject matter? And all you need to do is click on any and there's a Preview or even a bit of it in audio, then a load of reviews and stars, etc etc. There's also places like this >>   https://www.goodreads.com/     there are far more options nowadays for finding out about books.

     

    In order to want to click on a book to read its description I first have to want to do that. What is it that makes me want to stop and take a closer look?

     

    Besides, there are many reasons one might be browsing. One might be looking for a specific author, title or subject, or one might simply be scanning over a broad category, stopping only at those books that catch your attention.

     

    In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book. Better yet, it will get the potential reader to pause in their browsing. If it does even just that, it has succeeded.

     

    There's the availability of so much media nowadays to promote or get to hear about books, that perhaps covers are becoming irrelevant? And now there's things like this >>   http://www.audible.co.uk/?tmplaceref=ENGINE&tmad=c&tmcampid=17&tmclickref=audible&Source_code=M2M30DFT1BkSH11201400LW

     

    Run your mouse over an image and you get a full description and more. Granted there is an an image, but it is small, but even so if you click on one you get far more information than you do on a book cover, and being digital there is no actual cover.

     

    Again, you have to want to stop and take the time to read a book's description...which is what I have been trying to get across all along. Of course a cover cannot convey all the information that a blurb can...but that's not the purpose of the cover. The purpose is to get you to want to stop and learn more about the book.

     

    As you say, covers are shown even in the Audible example. Why not simply post a list of titles and nothing more? Or perhaps a list of titles each followed by a short paragraph describing the book. Audible could get a lot more books listed on each page if they did that. I would suggest that one reason (among several) is that the cover can convey more information in a brief glance than the title alone could.

     

    Unless you are deliberately looking for a specific author, your eye will tend toward the covers that attract you the most. Those will be the ones you are most likely to click on and read about.

     

    Don't get me wrong, I like book covers on actual real books, but things have changed.

     

    They have but, unfortunately, your examples really don't go very far in showing that book covers no longer have any purpose.


     

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    kevinlomas wrote:

    That's interesting Ron because none seem to be newer covers then the 1960s. What about contemporary cover designers?


    There are too many to list!

     

    Among many, many others I like Peter Mendelsund, Oliver Munday, Lisa Perrin, Stephen Hickman and Vincent Chong.

     

    I have to kind of separate cover designers from cover illustrators in a lot of cases. Though a designer will often create their own artwork, sometimes a cover is a collaboration between a designer and an illustrator. By the same token, there are a lot of cover illustrators I admire who usually work under the direction of a designer.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    I just remembered an essay I wrote while working on the eighteen covers needed for the ebook editions of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. I discovered that her fans were astonishingly nit-picky about details being exactly right and after reading a great deal about what they thought constituted a "good" book cover, I wrote and posted this for their edification...

     

    http://black-cat-studios.com/book_cover_design_101.html

     

    There are some comments directed specifically toward Lois' books, but I don't think this will keep anyone from getting the basic idea of what I am saying.

     

    I followed this up with some specific examples from my own portfolio...

     

    http://black-cat-studios.com/book_covers_101.html

     

    Hopefully both of these pages will give everyone a handle on what my ideas are regarding book covers.

     

    PS

    Lois and I solved the problem of having her fans arguing about details by not having any. We instead went with a very minimalist, graphic look to her covers. Here is one of them...

    imag024.jpg

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Ron Miller wrote:

    kevinlomas wrote:

    Simplicity really is the key to an effective book cover.

     

    Sales of books perhaps do not agree with you there.

     

    Actually, they do. You may pull out a counterexample of some best-selling author's book, but in cases such as those---as in the Erle Stanley Gardner/Perry Mason book cover you showed earlier, they tend to depend on the name value as a brand.

     

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/6825584/Amazon-top-10-best-selling-books-of-the-decade.html

     

    Not according to the books at that link they do not, but you are 100% correct about some series become brands, which makes cover art a bit redundant.

     

    Covers have to get their message across in a split second,

     

    I would not disagree with that, but only for new writers' books that may not have had a lot of marketing behind them. Then again, while looking at a page full of books, the page is looked at for far longer than a second, so therefore so are the covers on it.

     

    True, but when you are looking at an entire page full of covers you are not seeing the individual books.

     

    How are you not? I don't have tunnel vision.

     

    You are looking at a page full of covers. If you take an additional moment to single out two or three covers it is because those succeeded in catching your eye.

     

    More than the writer's name would you say? Or even just the title?

     

    since a potential reader may only give it a brief glance before passing along to the next book. In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book.

     

    They are no longer only displayed on the shelves in stores with only the spine showing. Take a look at this >> https://www.amazon.com/Books/b/ref=sv_b_3/152-2939975-6543366?ie=UTF8&node=549028

     

    I'm not sure what your point is.

     

    I think my point is shown in my why do you buy a book thread.

     

    Or even that you are not contradicting yourself.

     

    Er, how am I?

     

    For instance, here you seem to be arguing that displaying the face of a book is the best thing to do...while a couple

     

    There is not only that on those pages though, and it is also showing what people have actually bought regardless of the covers being very random. Often the bad covers have out sold the good ones.

     

    of paragraphs below you would seem to be suggesting that the idea thing for Audible would be to just publish a list of titles and blurbs and nothing else.

     

    Erm, no, that's not at all what I said. I pointed out what they do do.

     

    But do you not look at who wrote it first? Or the subject matter? And all you need to do is click on any and there's a Preview or even a bit of it in audio, then a load of reviews and stars, etc etc. There's also places like this >>   https://www.goodreads.com/     there are far more options nowadays for finding out about books.

     

    In order to want to click on a book to read its description I first have to want to do that. What is it that makes me want to stop and take a closer look?

     

    You have answered that in my why do you thread!

     

    Besides, there are many reasons one might be browsing. One might be looking for a specific author,

     

    Have I not said that many times? The cover is therefore irrelevant, all it needs on it is the writer's name. Boring but true.

     

    title or subject, or one might simply be scanning over a broad category, stopping only at those books that catch your attention.

     

    That is still a category though, which means you are looking for specific books.

     

    In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book. Better yet, it will get the potential reader to pause in their browsing. If it does even just that, it has succeeded.

     

    There's the availability of so much media nowadays to promote or get to hear about books, that perhaps covers are becoming irrelevant? And now there's things like this >>   http://www.audible.co.uk/?tmplaceref=ENGINE&tmad=c&tmcampid=17&tmclickref=audible&Source_code=M2M30DFT1BkSH11201400LW

     

    Run your mouse over an image and you get a full description and more. Granted there is an an image, but it is small, but even so if you click on one you get far more information than you do on a book cover, and being digital there is no actual cover.

     

    Again, you have to want to stop and take the time to read a book's description...which is what I have been trying to get across all along.

     

     

    OK, put it this way, if a cover has no title or writer's name on it, you would bypass it? What if it only had the title on it? What if it only had the writer's name on it? But what I am trying to get across, apparently only to you, is that there are far far more reasons why people buy a book than just the cover.

     

    Of course a cover cannot convey all the information that a blurb can...but that's not the purpose of the cover. The purpose is to get you to want to stop and learn more about the book.

     

    I tell you what I sometimes thing, I see a cover like this >> 

     

    410190.jpg (318×456)

     

    And I think someone has gone to the bother of creating decent, and no doubt expensive, art for that, and regardless of the name on it, they must think that the contents are worthy of it so perhaps I should also!

     

    And I see this and wonder why they bothered! >>

     

    img-thing (300×300)

     

    As you say, covers are shown even in the Audible example.

     

    I would class them along with CD inserts, really (exactly like that because I do have some fiction on CDs). But unlike with CDs there's no booklet to go with it.

     

     

    Why not simply post a list of titles and nothing more?

     

    Harder to click on?

     

    Or perhaps a list of titles each followed by a short paragraph describing the book.

     

    Ditto.

     

    Audible could get a lot more books listed on each page if they did that. I would suggest that one reason (among several) is that the cover can convey more information in a brief glance than the title alone could.

     

    Indeed. It makes it far easier to spot the writer one is after. But my point was (he says again) is that buying on line is not like in stores. On line there's far far more information to look at.

     

    Unless you are deliberately looking for a specific author, your eye will tend toward the covers that attract you the most. Those will be the ones you are most likely to click on and read about.

     

    That could be true, but it is not that at all which makes people then buy them.

     

    Don't get me wrong, I like book covers on actual real books, but things have changed.

     

    They have but, unfortunately, your examples really don't go very far in showing that book covers no longer have any purpose.

     

    Then you are not looking at them carefully enough. Most of the examples I gave here of top selling books mainly had the names of famous people on them. The art work was irrelevant.

     

    What's the first thing you see on this?

     

    10de5428648b812c63ab70fb9518833e.jpg (213×354)


     


     

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Ron Miller wrote:

    kevinlomas wrote:

    That's interesting Ron because none seem to be newer covers then the 1960s. What about contemporary cover designers?


    There are too many to list!

     

    Among many, many others I like Peter Mendelsund, Oliver Munday, Lisa Perrin,

     

    Yes, Lisa Perrin's work is quite good.

     

    Stephen Hickman

     

    Is awesome.

     

    and Vincent Chong.

     

    Ditto,

     

    but the other two seem very childlike.

     

    Your own art is amazingly skillful and I have to wonder why you like covers such as this >>

     

    c50188ca1a4b19e88b7f128b7367275a.jpg (236×363)

     

     

     

    I have to kind of separate cover designers from cover illustrators in a lot of cases. Though a designer will often create their own artwork, sometimes a cover is a collaboration between a designer and an illustrator. By the same token, there are a lot of cover illustrators I admire who usually work under the direction of a designer.

     

    Yes, that can be a problem. I suppose even artists have to earn a crust, but I respect the ones who can do photo-realistic art of things that do not exist or are impossible to photograph Smiley Happy

     

     

    http://spaceart.photoshelter.com/gallery/Life-in-the-Universe/G0000vqIjji2voCE/C0000tNDaWl3DLNQ

     

     


     

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Paul_Lulu wrote:

    kevinlomas wrote:

    With Kidby's work you can also hang it on walls Paul


    Indeed, I actually bought a print for my brother - bigger Pratchett fan than me - for a birthday some years back.

     

    Overall, I think my eye is drawn to the Pullman cover most, even though it is the most complex of the covers. Could be a bit of bias, as I recognize the book.

     

    Yes I can understand that, and I assume you also already know his name (and some of his books have been made in to a quite famous films).

     

    But on second glance, I'm most interested in 'Egypt' because the minimal design of the cover makes me want to know more.

     

    Hrmm, one would hope it has decent blurb on the back then!

     

    The other two are revealing something in the cover, while the simple one reveals nothing and prompts me to flip the book over and read the blurb.

     

    I can partly agree with that, but what about this?

     

    rough_guide_history.jpg (230×318)

     

    Still, I do have to admit Pullman's draws my eye the most of the three. 

     

    It really goes to prove that the subject is more complex than meets the eye.


     

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    Ron Miller wrote:

    I just remembered an essay I wrote while working on the eighteen covers needed for the ebook editions of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. I discovered that her fans were astonishingly nit-picky about details being exactly right and after reading a great deal about what they thought constituted a "good" book cover, I wrote and posted this for their edification...

     

    Her book covers are good though, most of them.   

     

    31df1ac06d335fb9deff5667a3df0511.jpg (236×183)

     

    And did the fans reply?

     

    http://black-cat-studios.com/book_cover_design_101.html

     

    There are some comments directed specifically toward Lois' books, but I don't think this will keep anyone from getting the basic idea of what I am saying.

     

    I doubt her fans agreed with you.   Smiley Happy

     

    I followed this up with some specific examples from my own portfolio...

     

    http://black-cat-studios.com/book_covers_101.html

     

    Hopefully both of these pages will give everyone a handle on what my ideas are regarding book covers.

     

    Not really, it just seems to be you were given more time or even money (!) to create some of them and/or you just designed what was asked for. What some publisher's artistic director wanted, and not you.

     

    PS

    Lois and I solved the problem of having her fans arguing about details by not having any. We instead went with a very minimalist, graphic look to her covers. Here is one of them...

    imag024.jpg

     

    No comment ...   Smiley Wink




  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    kevinlomas wrote:

    Ron Miller wrote:

    kevinlomas wrote:

    Simplicity really is the key to an effective book cover.

     

    Sales of books perhaps do not agree with you there.

     

    Actually, they do. You may pull out a counterexample of some best-selling author's book, but in cases such as those---as in the Erle Stanley Gardner/Perry Mason book cover you showed earlier, they tend to depend on the name value as a brand.

     

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/6825584/Amazon-top-10-best-selling-books-of-the-decade.html

     

    Not according to the books at that link they do not, but you are 100% correct about some series become brands, which makes cover art a bit redundant.

     

    Of the top ten best-selling books of the decade all but one are series books. The only argument would be whether the very first book in any of those series had an effective cover.

     

    Covers have to get their message across in a split second,

     

    I would not disagree with that, but only for new writers' books that may not have had a lot of marketing behind them. Then again, while looking at a page full of books, the page is looked at for far longer than a second, so therefore so are the covers on it.

     

    True, but when you are looking at an entire page full of covers you are not seeing the individual books.

     

    How are you not? I don't have tunnel vision.

     

    So...are you saying that when you look at an entire page of book covers you are also looking at each one individually?

     

    You are looking at a page full of covers. If you take an additional moment to single out two or three covers it is because those succeeded in catching your eye.

     

    More than the writer's name would you say? Or even just the title?

     

    The title might be interesting but the author would only catch your eye if the name was familiar. Even Rowling had a first book and her name on it meant nothing.

     

    since a potential reader may only give it a brief glance before passing along to the next book. In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book.

     

    They are no longer only displayed on the shelves in stores with only the spine showing. Take a look at this >> https://www.amazon.com/Books/b/ref=sv_b_3/152-2939975-6543366?ie=UTF8&node=549028

     

    I'm not sure what your point is.

     

    I think my point is shown in my why do you buy a book thread.

     

    ?

     

    Or even that you are not contradicting yourself.

     

    Er, how am I?

     

    For instance, here you seem to be arguing that displaying the face of a book is the best thing to do...while a couple

     

    There is not only that on those pages though, and it is also showing what people have actually bought regardless of the covers being very random. Often the bad covers have out sold the good ones.

     

    I would like to see some evidence of that. You might be able to  make a case with the covers on books by well-known authors, but I think it would be harder with books by new or first-time authors.

     

    of paragraphs below you would seem to be suggesting that the idea thing for Audible would be to just publish a list of titles and blurbs and nothing else.

     

    Erm, no, that's not at all what I said. I pointed out what they do do.

     

    Actually, you did suggest that very thing. See what you wrote below about Audible.

     

    But do you not look at who wrote it first? Or the subject matter? And all you need to do is click on any and there's a Preview or even a bit of it in audio, then a load of reviews and stars, etc etc. There's also places like this >>   https://www.goodreads.com/     there are far more options nowadays for finding out about books.

     

    In order to want to click on a book to read its description I first have to want to do that. What is it that makes me want to stop and take a closer look?

     

    You have answered that in my why do you thread!

     

    Only in the case where I am deliberately looking for a specific subject or author. I don't always do that. And even when I am looking within a general subject, my eye will be attracted by a cover. For instance, if there are half a dozen books about astronomy, I will click first on the one with the most interesting cover.

     

    Besides, there are many reasons one might be browsing. One might be looking for a specific author,

     

    Have I not said that many times? The cover is therefore irrelevant, all it needs on it is the writer's name. Boring but true.

     

    But this holds true only for those authors with familiar names, or names that have essentially become brands. But this is not true for a very great many authors. And I am not talking about self-published authors. I have repeatedly in the past gone through the current catalogs of major commercial publishers. What I  have found is that---contrary to what most self-published authors would like to believe---a large percentage of titles are by first-time authors. These can range from between 10% to 30% or more of new titles. Any one of these might become the latest best-seller---every publisher hopes so---but they can't be sold on the basis of the author's name.

     

    (By the way, I should take a moment to point out here that the only reason publishers can afford to take a risk on new authors is because they also publish books by established writers with a proven track record. Every time a self-published author complains about how celebrities always get their books in print forget this fact.)

     

    Big Fish is a good example. It was the first novel by Daniel Wallace and it was published by Algonquin Books, one of the largest and most prestigious publishers in this country. He had no name recognition whatsoever: the book had to sell strictly on its own merits. It got great reviews, which of course helped immensely, but the book had to also be not only distinctive but immediately recognizable. When book dealers (both brick and mortar and online) displayed the book, it needed to attract attention---especially since there would be not only so many well-known names surrounding it but myriads of competing titles as well. (And, after all, not everyone browsing through a collection of books is going to be looking for anything specific.) The cover for Big Fish needed to be recognizable to anyone looking for the book and at the same time attractive to someone seeing it for the first time.

     

    Now that Wallace has published half a dozen books, the newest cover for Big Fish focusses on the recognizability of the title and the author's name. This is exactly the same thing that happened to Stephen King if you compare the original cover of Carrie, his first novel, with the current edition.

     

    c cc

     

    title or subject, or one might simply be scanning over a broad category, stopping only at those books that catch your attention.

     

    That is still a category though, which means you are looking for specific books.

     

    And among those I will only stop at the ones that catch my attention.

     

    In that brief moment, it has to convey something of the nature or theme of the book. Better yet, it will get the potential reader to pause in their browsing. If it does even just that, it has succeeded.

     

    There's the availability of so much media nowadays to promote or get to hear about books, that perhaps covers are becoming irrelevant? And now there's things like this >>   http://www.audible.co.uk/?tmplaceref=ENGINE&tmad=c&tmcampid=17&tmclickref=audible&Source_code=M2M30DFT1BkSH11201400LW

     

    Run your mouse over an image and you get a full description and more. Granted there is an an image, but it is small, but even so if you click on one you get far more information than you do on a book cover, and being digital there is no actual cover.

     

    Again, you have to want to stop and take the time to read a book's description...which is what I have been trying to get across all along.

     

     

    OK, put it this way, if a cover has no title or writer's name on it, you would bypass it? What if it only had the title on it? What if it only had the writer's name on it? But what I am trying to get across, apparently only to you, is that there are far far more reasons why people buy a book than just the cover.

     

    Why would a book cover not have the title and author's name? And, of course, there have been covers with nothing but the title and author's name. Let me put it this way, using what I think you were hinting at regarding the Audible page: Would you prefer seeing nothing but a list of titles and authors?

     

    In any event, I am not arguing about why people buy a book but rather what attracts them to it in the first place. There is no question but that people will seek out books by specific authors or books about specific topics...but you seem to be discounting the effectiveness of cover art entirely.

     

     

    Of course a cover cannot convey all the information that a blurb can...but that's not the purpose of the cover. The purpose is to get you to want to stop and learn more about the book.

     

    I tell you what I sometimes thing, I see a cover like this >> 

     

    410190.jpg (318×456)

     

    And I think someone has gone to the bother of creating decent, and no doubt expensive, art for that, and regardless of the name on it, they must think that the contents are worthy of it so perhaps I should also!

     

    And I see this and wonder why they bothered! >>

     

    img-thing (300×300)

     

    As you say, covers are shown even in the Audible example.

     

    I would class them along with CD inserts, really (exactly like that because I do have some fiction on CDs). But unlike with CDs there's no booklet to go with it.

     

    I don't think anyone was very thrilled with the Meyer covers, but I ought to point out that you chose two books that would sell on the basis of name recognition alone.

     

     

    Why not simply post a list of titles and nothing more?

     

    Harder to click on?

     

    Why? What would be so hard about clicking on the title of a book?

     

    Or perhaps a list of titles each followed by a short paragraph describing the book.

     

    Ditto.

     

    Ditto.

     

    Audible could get a lot more books listed on each page if they did that. I would suggest that one reason (among several) is that the cover can convey more information in a brief glance than the title alone could.

     

    Indeed. It makes it far easier to spot the writer one is after.

     

    IF one is after a specific author.

     

    But my point was (he says again) is that buying on line is not like in stores. On line there's far far more information to look at.

     

    Indeed. But (he says again) you have to want to stop and read that information. A cover acts as a kind of triage or preselection process. Unless you are looking for a specific author or title, you are just browsing. With covers visible, you will tend to go toward those books that attract your eye...otherwise you would need to at least scan over the information attached to each and every book.

     

    In other words, yes, there is far, far more information available about each book on line, but do you have the time to read each and every listing? Covers are the first line in the selection process.

     

    Here is one example that just occurred to me. I have a book available called "The Art of Space." It is a pictorial history of artwork devoted to depictions of astronomical and space flight subjects. There is another book also available with the very same title. It is about interior decoration. 

     

    When the books are displayed side by side---as Amazon does when you search for the title alone---it is instantly apparent that the books are about different subjects. You do not have to stop and read a description of each.

     

    Unless you are deliberately looking for a specific author, your eye will tend toward the covers that attract you the most. Those will be the ones you are most likely to click on and read about.

     

    That could be true, but it is not that at all which makes people then buy them.

     

    No cover can make anyone buy a book. What a cover can do is make it more likely that someone will stop and look at it.

     

    Don't get me wrong, I like book covers on actual real books, but things have changed.

     

    They have but, unfortunately, your examples really don't go very far in showing that book covers no longer have any purpose.

     

    Then you are not looking at them carefully enough. Most of the examples I gave here of top selling books mainly had the names of famous people on them. The art work was irrelevant.

     

    That is because you cherry-picked the selection. Of course any book by an already established, best-selling author hardly needs more than their name on the cover.

     

    But you do realize, I presume, that everyone from Stephen King to J.K. Rowling had to have had a first book?

     

    I mentioned earlier the large number of new authors who are published every year by traditional publishers. A list of debut novels that became best-sellers would be more to the point. (And it might be worth mentioning that in a large number of instances, the covers for these books have become as iconic as the books themselves.) To mention only a few more or less recent titles: The Fight Club, The Kite Runner, Less Than Zero, Trainspotting, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Bluest Eye, White Teeth, The Secret Life of Bees, The Help, The Wasp Factory, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time...and countless others, including Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

     

    None of these books could count on author recognition.

     

    No one could argue that the success of these books was solely due to their covers...but neither can it be denied that their covers played a role. If nothing else, they provide an identifiable package.

     

     

     

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    kevinlomas wrote:

    Ron Miller wrote:

    I just remembered an essay I wrote while working on the eighteen covers needed for the ebook editions of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. I discovered that her fans were astonishingly nit-picky about details being exactly right and after reading a great deal about what they thought constituted a "good" book cover, I wrote and posted this for their edification...

     

    Her book covers are good though, most of them.   

     

    I think I would question the word "most" since Lois has had dozens and dozens of different covers. (Here is a list of all the artists who have illustrated her work.) But even given that, don't forget that Lois is a best-selling author so she can depend on the salesworthiness of her name (which you can see being taken advantage of in most of these examples where in thumbnail size the title is all but unreadable but Lois' name remains prominent).

     

    You will also notice the use of branding in the layout and design all but three of the covers.

     

    31df1ac06d335fb9deff5667a3df0511.jpg (236×183)

     

    And did the fans reply?

     

    Indeed they did! Lois' fans are very vocal and have extremely exact opinions. In fact, it was partially because she had gotten weary of all the arguing about how many buttons should be on a character's uniform that she decided to take matters in her own hands.

     

    http://black-cat-studios.com/book_cover_design_101.html

     

    There are some comments directed specifically toward Lois' books, but I don't think this will keep anyone from getting the basic idea of what I am saying.

     

    I doubt her fans agreed with you.   Smiley Happy

     

    A surprising number did. In fact, there was an extended online conversation about all of this. The subject was something very new to her readers and there was a lot of very worthwhile discussion. Many of her readers came to realize that there was a difference between their subjective opinions about a cover and its objective purposes. That is to say, they can not like a cover for personal reasons while at the same time appreciating the cover on its own merits.

     

    I followed this up with some specific examples from my own portfolio...

     

    http://black-cat-studios.com/book_covers_101.html

     

    Hopefully both of these pages will give everyone a handle on what my ideas are regarding book covers.

     

    Not really, it just seems to be you were given more time or even money (!) to create some of them and/or you just designed what was asked for. What some publisher's artistic director wanted, and not you.

     

    Yes, really.

     

    All of the examples I presented were covers over which I had complete creative control...even to the design and placement of the typography. This is why I chose them and why I said that they represented my personal take on cover design.

     

    But I should also reply to your last remark. I have been a professional illustrator for more than 40 years. In that time I have created scores of book covers for a great many traditional publishers (more than 100 for Baen Books alone). While an art director may sometimes have something specific in mind, it is almost always a generality. Often something like, "I'd like to focus on the main character," or "I'd like to run the title in this space, so make sure there's nothing important there." If the book is part of a series, there may be a request that the art be compatible with previous covers. But, like all of my illustrator colleagues, I am almost always given either a copy of the complete MS of a novel or at the very least a long synopsis. Sometimes I am even given access to the author. It is up to me to go through the book and find the imagery that I think would work best on the cover. I  then typically provide at least three different ideas to the art director, who will then choose the one they want (usually the one I like least) along with any special requests (positioning of specific elements within the art, color, etc.).  Uusually, the more detailed the sketches are the fewer changes or adjustments need to be made in the final art.

     

    Unless, as I said, the book is part of a series in which there must be some visual or typographic consistency to the covers, the actual cover design is not begun until the art is delivered. That is, the title, author's name, special design elements, etc. are worked into the art after the art is completed.  (Most series books with a consistent theme will often employ the same artist throughout.)

     

    Some cover artists, such as my friend Steve Hickman, provide entire covers, complete with art and typography, in a single painting. 

    sdfrd

     

     

    PS (added later)

     

    I should also say that in addition to being a cover designer I am also an author who has worked---and is working---with a large number of traditional commercial publishers. These publishers have ranged from Lerner and Ace to Workman and HarperCollins. My last book came out from Smithsonian Books and two books will be coming out later this year, one from Watkins and another from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. To this end, I have had a lot of direct, practical experience with the entire marketing and promotion process a book is put through. This ranges from interviews and reviews to book signings and advertising and pretty much everything in between. The cover of a book is an important part of this process and is, in fact, one of the first things to be accomplished. For instance, the cover of the Farrar, Straus & Giroux book has already been created even though the book itself is still in the final stages of the design process and in fact is not scheduled for release until the end of the year. Often a cover will be commissioned while a book is still in the editing phase. This is because the cover is needed for promotion as early as possible: for use in catalogs, posters, advertising, reviews, etc. It is an important part of a book's branding and identity.

     

    So, to reiterate, I have not only designed covers, I have worked closely with the marketing departments of several major publishers. I have some four decades of intimate practical experience in how books are promoted and advertised. I also have a great deal of interest in the subject as well (partly because I minored in advertising and partly for practical reasons), so I have spent considerable time interviewing editors and marketers---as well as fellow authors---since the more I know of the process of promoting the book, the better I can help sell my own. 

     

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius

    The reply tool does not seem to like long complex postings, so let's leave it at this.   Smiley Frustrated

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