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Another possible cover for Coding Hour

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Comments

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    The basic element for the cover picture of Numbers and Units in Old Tagalog is a slice of carambola, a tropical fruit that has five angles. I used it to represent the number 5. The whole picture is my artistic representation of the series of multiples of five from the unit to its square: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. That's all.

    It could be about handmade glass paperweights. 

    https://www.antiquetrader.com/features/rare_beauty_under_glass_a_look_at_fine_antique_paperweights/
  • potetjppotetjp Professor
    Skoob_ym said:
    With the phrase "Numbers and Units" I would assume the circles/spheres to represent sets of things, and the flowers to be numbers of things within the sets. Like Venn diagrams, almost.

    I see a set of one, of two, of three, of four, and of five. I happen to know that these are esa, dalawa, tatlo, anat, and lima in Tagalog, but that does not inform my understanding of the cover art.
    Yes: isá, dalawá, tatló, ápat, limá, (ánim, pitó, waló, siyám) = one two, three, four, five, (...)
  • potetjppotetjp Professor
    It could be about handmade glass paperweights. 
    Yes, could be, too. The purpose is to puzzle potential readers.
  • potetjp said:
    The basic element for the cover picture of Numbers and Units in Old Tagalog is a slice of carambola, a tropical fruit that has five angles. I used it to represent the number 5. The whole picture is my artistic representation of the series of multiples of five from the unit to its square: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. That's all. :)

    Well...I think that explanation may underscore my point. How many potential readers outside of the Philippines are going to recognize a carambola, let alone a slice of one?
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:
    potetjp said:
    I recently discovered that some people do not see what my cover picture of Number and Units in Old Tagalog represents despite the title. 

    Well, given that---like I suspect many other people---I have absolutely no pre-knowledge of Tagalog (old or new), let alone the history and culture of the Philippines, the cover was a complete mystery to me, too. If your book is intended solely for people already intimately familiar with its subject, you might not have any problem. But as I don't know what the significance of the imagery is, I can't be any judge of that.
    With the phrase "Numbers and Units" I would assume the circles/spheres to represent sets of things, and the flowers to be numbers of things within the sets. Like Venn diagrams, almost.

    I see a set of one, of two, of three, of four, and of five. I happen to know that these are esa, dalawa, tatlo, anat, and lima in Tagalog, but that does not inform my understanding of the cover art.

    Well, being able to count in Tagalog is certainly a skill I don't have and I hope that I am not flattering myself in thinking that not too many other non-Filippinos do, either. I do take some comfort in your thinking that carambola slices were flowers.

    In any case, a cover should not be a visual puzzle. It should convey clearly, unambiguously and immediately what a book is about. Other than a vaguely implied connection with geometry (and counting, I assume, is the subject, not geometry), I don't think that this cover succeeds in doing that.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • potetjppotetjp Professor
    edited August 2019

    In any case, a cover should not be a visual puzzle. It should convey clearly, unambiguously and immediately what a book is about. Other than a vaguely implied connection with geometry (and counting, I assume, is the subject, not geometry), I don't think that this cover succeeds in doing that.

    No, it's not about geometry, but about numbers. The problem with numbers is that they are abstractions. You cannot directly show a number. You imply a number by representing the corresponding number of objects. I didn't use digits because the Filipinos has no digits before the Spaniards introduced the European ones (borrowed from the Arabs, who had borrowed them from India).
  • potetjppotetjp Professor
    potetjp said:
    The basic element for the cover picture of Numbers and Units in Old Tagalog is a slice of carambola, a tropical fruit that has five angles. I used it to represent the number 5. The whole picture is my artistic representation of the series of multiples of five from the unit to its square: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25. That's all. :)

    Well...I think that explanation may underscore my point. How many potential readers outside of the Philippines are going to recognize a carambola, let alone a slice of one?
    The point was not to recognize a slice of carambola (an American fruit introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines in the early 17th century), but to realize it was a representation of the first five multiples of 5.  :)  No the cover picture is not meant to be transparent. It remains opaque, intriguing and gratuitously artistic until you understand its purpose.  Generally people like it without trying to see if it has a significance.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited August 2019

    I can't argue with your cover being "opaque, intriguing and gratuitously artistic until you understand its purpose"---it is certainly all of those things which is what, I think, is wrong with it. It's definitely pretty, but as I said, it's also a visual puzzle that requires in some part special knowledge to fully appreciate (let alone recognizing the fruit someone would have to have a pre-existing appreciation of why multiples of five are significant to old Tagalog. (And if there is no special significance, why the emphasis on it?) I do think that the cover would fail my test of replacing the title with one in a language you don't understand---or even with no title at all. I am pretty sure that no one would have a clue what your book is about...other than it might possibly have something vaguely to do with numbers.

    And speaking of numbers, you say "No, it's not about geometry, but about numbers." But your cover design is strongly geometric, with the circles, pentagram-shaped fruit and spheres, so anyone might be forgiven for having a mistaken impression. They may even be forgiven for thinking that your book is about diatoms or starfish, if they are not English-readers or look at the cover art before reading the title.

    I really do think that this cover, as pretty as it is, is a classic example of lack of objectivity.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • potetjppotetjp Professor
    edited August 2019

    "I really do think that this cover, as pretty as it is, is a classic example of lack of objectivity."

    Well ... obviously we are of different minds, and I am afraid this can't be helped. Thanks for your observations.
  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    Skoob_ym said:
    If any genre is easy to cover, I would argue that erotica would be that genre. But if a book with a cover such as these above were to in fact contain programming tips for the AMandA voicemail system as used in urban environments (especially aquatic urban environments) I believe that the readers might be badly disappointed.
    I missed this comment (too distracted by Ron's 1930s heroines).

    Even a tech geek nerd likes a pretty blonde girl, and should be able to correctly interpret the coding, which neatly brings this thread full circle :).
  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    potetjp said:
    I recently discovered that some people do not see what my cover picture of Number and Units in Old Tagalog represents despite the title. 
    Despite the title?

    The title tells me far less than the cover image, and the image just looks like Christmas baubles to my eye. "Old Tagalog" sounds like the name of a city quarter from a China Mieville novel so I'm instantly thinking it's fiction. The whole cover concept is so arcane it's got no meaning at all, for me.

    Seems to me that this cover is also one where the author has got so close to their own "clever" idea; they've lost sight of what covers are for, which is to market the book and to instantly grab the right eyeballs. From the explanatory content elsewhere in the thread, this cover doesn't to that very well - I still don't know what the book is about.
  • A_A_Cain said:
    potetjp said:
    I recently discovered that some people do not see what my cover picture of Number and Units in Old Tagalog represents despite the title. 
    Despite the title?

    The title tells me far less than the cover image, and the image just looks like Christmas baubles to my eye. "Old Tagalog" sounds like the name of a city quarter from a China Mieville novel so I'm instantly thinking it's fiction. The whole cover concept is so arcane it's got no meaning at all, for me.

    Seems to me that this cover is also one where the author has got so close to their own "clever" idea; they've lost sight of what covers are for, which is to market the book and to instantly grab the right eyeballs. From the explanatory content elsewhere in the thread, this cover doesn't to that very well - I still don't know what the book is about.
    Frankly, Jean-Paul's topic in this book is not for everyone. It is something of a monograph, and while a vital resource to those who study Tagalog or the history of South East Asia and the China Sea, it would not be of general interest because its focus is quite narrow.
    So in that sense, it may be a good thing that the cover art is slightly obscure, and that it requires recognition of the fruit and/or the language-name (Tagalog). Someone who recognizes Tagalog or the fruit will then take an interest; those who do not would find it too technical and not of general interest. I'm assuming here that none of us flip open books on random topics and begin reading simply for the love of obscure knowledge.
    While in a fiction book, garnering the widest possible audience is a good thing, in a text-book or a monograph, it is not, and will only lead to confused readers.
    That's not to denigrate the work, of course. As a person with a passing interest in the area due to my naval experience, I find Jean-Paul's books intriguing -- Koxinga of Taiwan, for example, is one of my favorites.
    But I think that because of their specificity, the market for them is limited, and the cover art helps the reader to know on which side of the divide he should place himself. So in that sense, it may not be the best general example of how cover art should express the book contents.
  • A_A_Cain said:
    potetjp said:
    I recently discovered that some people do not see what my cover picture of Number and Units in Old Tagalog represents despite the title. 
    Despite the title?

    The title tells me far less than the cover image, and the image just looks like Christmas baubles to my eye. "Old Tagalog" sounds like the name of a city quarter from a China Mieville novel so I'm instantly thinking it's fiction. The whole cover concept is so arcane it's got no meaning at all, for me.

    Seems to me that this cover is also one where the author has got so close to their own "clever" idea; they've lost sight of what covers are for, which is to market the book and to instantly grab the right eyeballs. From the explanatory content elsewhere in the thread, this cover doesn't to that very well - I still don't know what the book is about.
    It's about how to count and to group things using the language of the Phillipine Islands in general, and the Tagal people-group specifically (as opposed to Kampangan, Ilocano, Visayan, or one of the very many other people-groups for whom Tagalog is a Lingua Franca).
  • So, in the general case, perhaps we should consider a neutral case and expand on it. I refer the reader to this book by a friend. The cover looks like this:

    That cover offers no clue, aside from the title, as to the content of the book (which is a pretty good other-world fantasy story). So if we were giving letter grades for book cover, given that this conveys no relevant information, what grade might we give this cover, and why?
  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    edited September 2019
    Skoob_ym said:
    That cover offers no clue, aside from the title, as to the content of the book (which is a pretty good other-world fantasy story). So if we were giving letter grades for book cover, given that this conveys no relevant information, what grade might we give this cover, and why?
    That cover, for me, does evoke something mystical, something unearthly and weird. The lurid green is the unearthly touch - Lovecraft's Cthulhu, that kind of story. The cover image evokes mandalas, a modern day Celtic weave or an ancient church window. For me, the cover spells fantasy of some sort, because of the connections just given.

    So it's a meaningful cover, even without your hint, precisely because it does tap in on some familiar genre tropes. It's been kept simple, and thus isn't trying too hard. It works for me, but then, I know the code because it's a genre I (used to) read.

  • My first foray into the world of covers was for the first novel I published here. I learned a lot about cover prices, pre-mades vs customised, the pitfalls of trying to translate concepts into product, the problem of cliches and codes, all of that.

    In the end I went with a pre-made cover from a German artist, who did one or two tweaks, but in the end didn't deliver on the back cover art - so I figured out how to do that myself (text based, no image). 

    It wasn't ideal, but did the job - the sub-title solves the problem of cross-over genres (myth fantasy and erotica). The title gets lost, which is the limitation of thumbnails - on the actual book it looks much better.

    My later covers (two shown up above) are better, I think - but I had total control over the image and its manipulation (Photoshop filters, so very easy). 


  • I think the bottom line for the tagalong cover, is, no one understands it :)
  • There are indeed many covers that don't seem to have much to do with the story, laziness? Cheap to create? I don't know. Quite a few just have some Celtic type of glyph on them, with the story being some olde worlde fantasy. All I can say is thank the publisher for the blurb on the back, and when possible, a Preview. I have to say that amongst my favourite covers are these  -  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=terry+pratchette+book+covers&FORM=HDRSC2   which depict the stories perfectly, as well as being good art. Interestingly, each story often has many different covers.
  • I think the bottom line for the tagalong cover, is, no one understands it :)
    It's Tagalog, and I got it. Tag-along is a type of Girl Scout Cookie.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 2019
    Skoob_ym said:
    A_A_Cain said:
    potetjp said:
    I recently discovered that some people do not see what my cover picture of Number and Units in Old Tagalog represents despite the title. 
    Despite the title?

    The title tells me far less than the cover image, and the image just looks like Christmas baubles to my eye. "Old Tagalog" sounds like the name of a city quarter from a China Mieville novel so I'm instantly thinking it's fiction. The whole cover concept is so arcane it's got no meaning at all, for me.

    Seems to me that this cover is also one where the author has got so close to their own "clever" idea; they've lost sight of what covers are for, which is to market the book and to instantly grab the right eyeballs. From the explanatory content elsewhere in the thread, this cover doesn't to that very well - I still don't know what the book is about.
    Frankly, Jean-Paul's topic in this book is not for everyone. It is something of a monograph, and while a vital resource to those who study Tagalog or the history of South East Asia and the China Sea, it would not be of general interest because its focus is quite narrow.
    So in that sense, it may be a good thing that the cover art is slightly obscure, and that it requires recognition of the fruit and/or the language-name (Tagalog). Someone who recognizes Tagalog or the fruit will then take an interest; those who do not would find it too technical and not of general interest. I'm assuming here that none of us flip open books on random topics and begin reading simply for the love of obscure knowledge.
    While in a fiction book, garnering the widest possible audience is a good thing, in a text-book or a monograph, it is not, and will only lead to confused readers.
    That's not to denigrate the work, of course. As a person with a passing interest in the area due to my naval experience, I find Jean-Paul's books intriguing -- Koxinga of Taiwan, for example, is one of my favorites.
    But I think that because of their specificity, the market for them is limited, and the cover art helps the reader to know on which side of the divide he should place himself. So in that sense, it may not be the best general example of how cover art should express the book contents.

    Skoob_ym said:
    Frankly, Jean-Paul's topic in this book is not for everyone. It is something of a monograph, and while a vital resource to those who study Tagalog or the history of South East Asia and the China Sea, it would not be of genera interest because its focus is quite narrow.
    So in that sense, it may be a good thing that the cover art is slightly obscure, and that it requires recognition of the fruit and/or the language-name (Tagalog). Someone who recognizes Tagalog or the fruit will then take an interest; those who do not would find it too technical and not of general interest. I'm assuming here that none of

    [I decided to delete my comments. Since Jean-Paul has stated that he is perfectly happy with his cover there's not too much point in talking much further about it.]

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:
    So, in the general case, perhaps we should consider a neutral case and expand on it. I refer the reader to this book by a friend. The cover looks like this:

    That cover offers no clue, aside from the title, as to the content of the book (which is a pretty good other-world fantasy story). So if we were giving letter grades for book cover, given that this conveys no relevant information, what grade might we give this cover, and why?

    An F for all of the reasons you state. It is a cookie-cutter layout, with no attention paid to the choice of type and no attention paid to selecting or creating an image that conveys any sense of what the book might be about.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:
    So, in the general case, perhaps we should consider a neutral case and expand on it. I refer the reader to this book by a friend. The cover looks like this:

    That cover offers no clue, aside from the title, as to the content of the book (which is a pretty good other-world fantasy story). So if we were giving letter grades for book cover, given that this conveys no relevant information, what grade might we give this cover, and why?

    An F for all of the reasons you state. It is a cookie-cutter layout, with no attention paid to the choice of type and no attention paid to selecting or creating an image that conveys any sense of what the book might be about.
    So now, expanding on that: The book tells of a King's adventure in a battle, and a related adventure he experienced as a child / young adult. The story goes between the two timelines. The story prominently features a unique weapon, a sword shaped like a flattened sickle with an elongated blade.

    Would an image of that weapon against a solid background be a better or worse choice?

    Keep in mind that it relies in part on story-knowledge, but also that it is clearly an edged weapon for use in war or in single combat. Better grade or worse?
  • Skoob_ym said:
    Skoob_ym said:
    So, in the general case, perhaps we should consider a neutral case and expand on it. I refer the reader to this book by a friend. The cover looks like this:

    That cover offers no clue, aside from the title, as to the content of the book (which is a pretty good other-world fantasy story). So if we were giving letter grades for book cover, given that this conveys no relevant information, what grade might we give this cover, and why?

    An F for all of the reasons you state. It is a cookie-cutter layout, with no attention paid to the choice of type and no attention paid to selecting or creating an image that conveys any sense of what the book might be about.
    So now, expanding on that: The book tells of a King's adventure in a battle, and a related adventure he experienced as a child / young adult. The story goes between the two timelines. The story prominently features a unique weapon, a sword shaped like a flattened sickle with an elongated blade.

    Would an image of that weapon against a solid background be a better or worse choice?

    Keep in mind that it relies in part on story-knowledge, but also that it is clearly an edged weapon for use in war or in single combat. Better grade or worse?


    Only marginally better. It would seem that any significance the sword might have would really depend a good deal on having some knowledge of the story (or even some knowledge of swords, since you don't want to count on a potential reader automatically knowing when a sword is "unique"). Yes, the image of a sword would suggest that war or combat might be involved...but that is awfully general. I mean, that might cover everything from Ben-Hur to Shaka Zulu. In fact, there would be no real way of telling whether the book was fantasy or not...or even fiction or non-fiction.

    I remember when I was working on Lois McMaster's Vorkosigan ebooks. We reached out to her fans for ideas and someone suggested that one of the covers feature "the knife that Bothari wielded." Well, that'd be all well and good if you've already read the book...but to anyone else, it'd be just a knife, ho hum.

    I think that a cover image needs to be found with a little more focus---something more specific to this particular story and not the broad genre to which it might belong. If the story does indeed bounce between two timelines, this is something that might set it apart from the 2 point 7 zillion other sword and sorcery novels and is something that might be conveyed on the cover.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • I would like to know what was in the mind of the person who designed that cover.

  • So in that line, then, one might imagine the youth holding the sword and looking into a mirror, wherein is the reflection of the king he would become. One might place his dwarf and elf friends behind him to emphasize the sword-and-sorcery aspects.
    Two timelines, one hero; swords, dwarves, and elves.
  • I would like to know what was in the mind of the person who designed that cover.

    I am told that Celtic knots are popular in this sort of story, and serve as a kind of shibboleth.
  • Indeed I think I suggested that generic type on many covers, but those are not Celtic knots. These are, that represent the circle of life. I think they originate from the ones with a snake swallowing its own tail.    See the source image
  • Skoob_ym said:
    So in that line, then, one might imagine the youth holding the sword and looking into a mirror, wherein is the reflection of the king he would become. One might place his dwarf and elf friends behind him to emphasize the sword-and-sorcery aspects.
    Two timelines, one hero; swords, dwarves, and elves.
    That would be much better!
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 2019
    Indeed I think I suggested that generic type on many covers, but those are not Celtic knots. These are, that represent the circle of life. I think they originate from the ones with a snake swallowing its own tail.    See the source image

    You beat me to a reply!

    I agree completely that the pattern in the original cover is not even remotely Celtic. And even it were, it still would say nothing. That "Celtic knots are popular in this sort of story," even if true, still requires someone already knowing what "sort of story" the book is. But all we have is an ambiguous title that could be on anything from an historic romance to a non-fiction biography. There is absolutely nothing about either the original pattern or a proper Celtic one that suggests that the book is an "other-world fantasy."

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • still requires someone already knowing what "sort of story"

    To me such covers normally mean myth and magic sort of stuff.
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