Thoughts on Book Covers, and eBooks or is Fabio Obsolete?

Lately I have been thinking about books. I know, I know….like that is anything new.  But two things have made me give another look at two book-related items I have always taken for granted.  Book covers and dust jackets.

First, a look at book covers.  I hate to admit it but when I think of book covers, the first thing that jumps to mind are those lurid, over the top paperback covers for bodice rippers.  For a time they prominently featured a model called Fabio and made him a star.  But they always had a damsel in distress and featured a gorgeous guy, long hair flowing, with a shirt artlessly opened to show a muscled chest.  Get me a fan now! Uh hem….back to the point I was making. I also remember those beloved gothic romances I couldn’t get enough of.  You could always tell a gothic book from its cover.  Dark, either on a moor or near a forest, mansion/castle placed nearby.  A heroine in a long diaphanous garb flees, head turned backwards.  Didn’t matter who the author was, you knew what you were getting as you browsed the aisles of the bookstore. Now we have books bought online.  Whether it is from epublishers like Dreamspinner Press or Loose Id, or from Amazon (Kindle) or Barnes and Noble (Nook), how does a book attract me as a buyer?

As my local bookstores disappear (another discussion for another time), most of my books are bought online.  First, the author.  There are authors who are must buys for me so that’s obvious.  But the cover is no longer the first draw when it comes to eBooks.  Why is that? The answers to that question are varied and numerous.  When looking at books online, the covers by necessity are small, and sometimes hard to see.  The publishers and artists designing the covers should take this in mind but too often, the covers are designed as though it was a print version only.  I can see this if the book is to be released in both formats.  The publisher wants to avoid confusion and brand the book.  Fine.  But what about those books published only online? Or those self published by those with no design background?  Cheap covers, muddled covers, or covers just too busy with multiple fonts, and hard to see graphics can be the end result.  That is not to say there aren’t wonderful artists out there producing great eBook covers because there are. Its just that the cover alone is not enough to grab my attention.

So how do I choose a book these days? I have come to depend on book excerpts, blurbs and synopses to help make my decision as to what book to read next.  Also reviews and recommendations.  Newsletters from publishers and reviewer blogs figure into my book selections too. The last thing to figure into my choice?  That would be the cover.  I still appreciate them, love to look at them, and sometimes laugh at them. They definitely add to my reading enjoyment.  But covers are no longer the major factor in choosing to buy a book that they once were for me.  At least when it comes to buying online.

Ahhhh.,,,,but get me in a bookstore for a hour or a day, then the book cover reigns supreme once again.  Like jewels sparkling at a jewelers, the covers with their different fonts, colors and graphics call out to me.  They beckon me with their promise of new horizons and mysterious strangers.  And for that, I will always be grateful for those publishers, authors, artists, and even models who have adorned book covers both past, present and future. Thanks for the memories, thanks for the hard work, and thanks for all the joy to come.  And no Fabio will never be obsolete!

Covers From My Past:

Ebook Covers I Like:

Over Used Models (see – Misadventures in Stock Photography) where, like Fabio, some cover models are used over and over again, like the guy in the covers below:













Great Link on Cover Design:

Link on Ugly Cover Contest:  http://thepassivevoice/05/2011/the-agent-as-publisher-ugly-cover-contest-winner

And about those dust jackets?  That’s our blog for another day.

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.


  1. Glad you liked the “Blue Notes” cover, Melanie! And I adore the “Moonlight, Tiger” cover – it’s one of the best I’ve seen. Great post. XD

    Authors angst like crazy over covers. It’s nice to be reminded that isn’t the be all and end all for readers picking a book. I have to admit to hesitating when I see a cover that I don’t like, though. And I grew up in the age of Fabio covers – for me, they were a bit alienating. I wanted to be the damsel in distress and get rescued by the gorgeous hunk (although Fabio was never really my “type,” lol), but I looked absolutely NOTHING like the women portrayed.

    As a reader, I want a cover that evokes what’s important: what’s inside the book.


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