Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a meme started over on Should Be Reading that presents a different literary-themed question every week.

This week’s question is:

I read an article, this past week, about book covers, and the difference between print & digital covers; about how the digital covers have almost disappeared entirely, while publishers decide to just skip right to the content. 

What do you think about this? Do you think the book cover is “dead”? Do you care whether the “covers” on digital books exist or not?

If you have the time, read the article and then share your thoughts! 

While I find the above-mentioned article interesting, I don’t agree with many of its points. Perhaps this is partially a symptom of my vehement distaste for (and thus, ignorance regarding) ereaders. Yet I feel that the book cover is an integral facet of the reading experience that has and will continue to endure, regardless of the platform our reading material inevitably takes on.

Despite the axiom never to judge a book by its cover, I frequently find myself doing so, and I don’t think I’m alone. More often than not, this results in dragging me into a story whose substance doesn’t fulfill the promise of its beautiful cover art, yet whether the book is good or not, the important thing is it got me reading. Covers generate excitement. Venture onto any book blog geared toward young adult fiction and you will find yourself presented with a panoply of upcoming release covers. Enthusiasm is tangible the week of a cover release, and many bloggers vie for the opportunity to be the first to present a cover reveal. Cover artists such as Chris McGrath and Dan Dos Santos have become as recognizable in the genres they design for as the authors themselves. While more readers today are choosing digital formats for their books, that doesn’t mean that cover art is forsaken. Honestly, the majority of titles I stumble across in my searches for galleys have cover art; however, the quality of the cover is by no means a given. Unfortunately, self-published titles today can largely be pinpointed (and oftentimes ignored) due to the self-produced look of their covers. Still, even the ugliest of photoshopped covers represents an attempt to visualize the story that lay within.

While the author of this article seems to consider the eventual disappearance of cover art a foregone consequence of the increasing reliance on digital book formats, I personally haven’t witnessed a decrease in prevalence of cover art for the genres I read. If anything, I’ve noted a shift in the conception of cover art as a static medium to a dynamic one. For instance, the release of Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin earlier this year was accentuated by an enhanced, interactive cover for the digital edition. I’ve seen this phenomenon several times this year in young adult fiction and believe that it will soon make its way into other genres as well, particularly given the abundance of people who enjoy the tactile experience of utilizing apps.

I am an avid book collector. I enjoy being surrounded by physical books, displaying them in my home, and knowing that I can pull one off the shelf any time I feel the urge to delve into another world. For me, the experience of reading a book begins with the cover; it’s an art form unto itself. I don’t foresee cover art becoming obsolete, even if physical book sales continue to decrease. In any case, I have my fingers crossed.


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