Why Cover Art Still Matters – Even in the Digital AgePosted: August 10, 2012
“In the olden days, a reader might pick up a book because the cover was exciting, intriguing, maybe even beautiful. But in the brave new world of e-books and e-readers, the days when (artists) could make us reach for a book may be gone.”
That’s what NPR thinks, but I disagree.
Chip Kidd, an associate art director at publisher Alfred A. Knopf, says, “People don’t buy a book on the Web because of the cover. They’ll buy a book on the Web because they’ve read a review or it’s word of mouth or some combination of the two.”
I’ve had an e-reader since mid-March. Since then, I’ve read about 50 books. So while I may be new to the e-reader scene, I’ve had a bit of practice.
When you surf sites like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or even Good Reads, what makes you click through and read the review? For me, that’s the cover art. It’s just a digital version of the bricks-and-mortar store. In the book store, you wander around; and when a book’s cover or title catches your eye, you flip it over and read the description and reviews. Then you make your decision.
For me, the digital process is exactly the same. I read the descriptions of books that catch my eye on Barnes & Noble or iTunes, and then I might head over to Good Reads and check out the reviews.
I can’t help but assume this process is similar for other e-reader owners. I’m not sure I would’ve picked up Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 if the cover wasn’t so intriguing, or Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies if the artwork didn’t conjure up images of my beloved Downton Abbey. Sure, the descriptions and reviews ultimately lead to the decision, but if you expect readers to get to that point, you have to catch their eye.
So please, Chip Kidd et. al, don’t believe you’re obsolete. Our books may lack pages, but we still care what’s up front.
While we’re on the subject, here’s a few books I probably wouldn’t have picked up with an “ugly” cover – and I’m happy I did.