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do covers matter for an ebook?

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

do covers matter for an ebook?

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 9th, 2011, 12:09 am

Now that ebooks are beginning their climb to the top of the pile -- it isn't a question of IF they will become the dominant format, only WHEN -- do the covers matter as much as they used to?

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Fri September 9th, 2011, 12:13 am

HMMM! Now that is a question!

I still think you will need something to catch people's attention just like a cover does. Only this will be a digital one.

Thats just me, and I'm a cover snob. I think they are very, very important. ;) Even though I have read a lot of bad books with amazing covers.
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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Fri September 9th, 2011, 9:17 am

Some books have such lovely covers it's difficult to see how they'll convert to the digital format. I'm also a bit of a cover snob, and have sometimes been put off buying a book because of a hideous, or simply naff (Anita Shreve's publishers, are you listening?) cover, and will try to get an older edition instead.
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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Fri September 9th, 2011, 9:26 am

I can be put off by the cover, too. Ebooks usually have the same cover as the paperback, don't they? You have to turn back to look at the cover, though, as when you click to access the book, it takes you to the first reading page. I always have a little flick back! :) You don't know what you might have missed..... chapter titles, character list, a bit of info, dedication.
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Post by SGM » Fri September 9th, 2011, 9:27 am

The EPUB e-books I download from the library all have covers and the library list always shows a cover but I don't really notice them except when I discover them littered all over my ebook reader because they don't delete with the rest of the book. They don't really display that well in black and white at low resolution. I suppose if you use an iPad to read the book you getter a much better view.

What I find most important is the book synopsis (ie the back cover text) and that is missing from a lot of Kindle items. I also wish Amazon would give the publication history on their listings including the out-of-copyright books because in some cases that would help me identify if I have already read them.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 9th, 2011, 1:53 pm

I didn't know that you had to page back to see it. Thanks for the info, Vanessa.
Covers used to matter to me -- especially when carrying the book around in a public place. There were some that had covers I wouldn't be caught dead with! But since getting my kindle, I find that I search a book out because of recommendations, buy it, and start reading. With several of my most recent reads, I still have no idea what the cover looks like.

And I find that it hasn't impacted my experience of the book one bit. Although I don't see why covers should have anything to do with a book -- after all, the writer didn't draw them.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri September 9th, 2011, 2:52 pm

I think what is going to matter is whether the interactive elements and graphics are going to make your ereader go haywire. My Sony has locked up a few times when I've tried to open a new book to read and I've wondered whether some funky code comes with some of those graphics. It's a pain to wait out a system reset. Images are going to look better on color ereaders than black & white, lower resolution readers. In that case, I think the consumer gets what he pays for. I don't buy books for the covers, and in some cases, am glad the cheesy covers aren't visible to anyone but me on my ereader (a plus). I really like the privacy of being able to read a book that isn't exhibited to the wider world.

I also think that books that come with maps will need to be designed so those maps are scaled properly for ereader and tablet devices. Some of the maps aren't very readable on ereaders.

I also hope the industry will begin doing a better job formatting table of contents, glossaries, etc. This is especially true for omnibus editions where you want to be able to navigate to ToCs for each book.

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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Fri September 9th, 2011, 3:54 pm

Great question! In another group, someone asked, "What draws you to read a book by an unknown author?" The number one criteria was arresting cover, followed closely by recommendations from friends/family, cover copy and sample read. When I "browse" for ebooks online, I use the regular screens (fiction, HF, ancient history, etc.) to get a pool, then look down the column of covers/titles till my eyes fall on something "interesting"--sometimes that's the cover, sometimes the title, sometimes the author. I then read the cover copy, check out the reviews and maybe sample a chapter. So for known authors, the cover might not make much difference, but for new or unknown (to the reader) authors the cover might still be quite compelling in terms of sales.

Folks are right that many print covers don't translate well to digital thumbnails, whether b/w for ebooks or sales online. Many publishers are looking at how the cover looks as a thumbnail and adjusting the graphic designs accordingly. I have a good friend who's publisher used a beautiful, ethereal (but dark) photo of arms underwater to illustrate her cover. When it showed up online, it looked muddy and dull. It's an art to create a good ebook cover. BTW, the cover of my novel was featured in an article on "What's great about this ebook cover" which reviews rules for creating good ebook covers. It was a finalist (top three) in a global ebook contest. Anyone who wants the name/info for the designer, let me know. I'd be happy to pass it on. I loved what he did for my book!
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Mythica
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Post by Mythica » Fri September 9th, 2011, 6:38 pm

Absolutely. In fact, I consider cover art all the more important with ebooks because with self publishing to ebooks being so easy, there is a large category of amateurish looking covers which I quickly glaze over when browsing (that is not to say all self published covers are amateurish looking). Also, with so much public domain works out there, some contemporary self published work can be easily mistaken for public domain if the cover does not stand out as professional or contemporary. Not that there's anything wrong with public domain but if that's not what I'm looking for, obviously I'm going to pass over it.

I'm a very visual person (in fact, sometimes it's kind of surprising I enjoy reading so much since it's not really visual) so covers are important to me, regardless of whether they are printed on the cover of a book or displayed digitally online. So I'm totally a cover snob too!

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 9th, 2011, 6:41 pm

Wow, Faith, the cover for Selene is eye-catching! I read all their comments and took notes. I'm from the 'cover-tells-a-story' school of thought, which is sadly outdated and does not work for thumbnails.

Time to re-think.

What about having several images prepared to market the book online? When everything is digital, you don't have to have just one cover--you can have several, one for each search demographic. Rather like they do different covers for different countries, according to the cultural messages each country reads into cover art.

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