This is the story of how someone else’s cover art can sell your book.
Cover art is powerful.
*That* image, which you recognize as a thumbnail, or even as a corner of a tattered paperback sticking out of a pile of stuff, conveys so much more than just a sketch of the main character.
It continues to sell the book even after the book has been sold once, twice, thrice and is making the rounds at the library book sales.
It gives the author an image. Consistent cover art with similar design motifs from one volume to the next tie all of the author’s books together as a uniform package.
It also invites conversation.
The lack of cover art is the single thing I dislike the most about e-format. Not that the books aren’t displayed on the virtual bookshelves with a thumbnail image– I know that’s there. I hate that the e-device itself doesn’t display the cover to a passer-by.
Last Friday I walked into the pottery studio and this was on the worktable next to another potter’s workspace. It was face down, open on the table, and I could see that she was about 2/3 of the way through the book. I could see that she borrowed it or bought it used. I could see that she was likely to enjoy many of the same books I do. All this before I even knew her name.
Because that book was there, displaying its cover, we talked for a long time about our faves. That book and its cover made many more book sales beyond its own title, author and publisher.
Alternatively, another lady was reading a kindle and eating by herself at a table next to where we were playing Munchkin this weekend. I have no idea what she was reading. No cover, no discussion, no new book sales, no new friendships made. A table of five SF/F avid readers and participants in NaNoWriMo had no reason to interrupt her lunch.
Here’s what Margaret the Potter Gal and I discussed:
So You Want to Be a Wizard, Diane Duane
Because Kristen Britain’s Green Rider was face down open on a table, I went out and purchased Alan Dean Foster’s The Light Years Beneath My Feet and Clive Barker’s Abarat. This conversation and these purchases likely never would have happened if Margaret were reading on an e-book device.
If publishers let cover art die, they’re killing the industry.