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.

Favorite Series Covers and Cover Artists!


Book covers have always fascinated me.  Some repel me, others draw me in immediately.  Think “ooh, shiny, pretty…” lol.  Others intrigue me by their content or graphic design, while others leave me “meh” or confused. When I think of series covers that are successful, all they have some of the same elements incorporated into their design.  The first being I can tell the books belong together at a glance, they have a cohesive design element consistent in every cover.  The fonts stay the same.  Each cover contains the same overall design with small changes that  don’t affect the overall picture they present to the reader.

So we are looking for consistency, cohesiveness, clarity and recognition.  Designs that convey a sense of connectedness between the books. Look over my choices and see if you agree with me. Many of my favorites series also have some of my favorite series covers. Yes, I have let quite a lot out but I need something for the next cover post, don’t I? Lets get started.

1. Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban, now being written by Abigail Roux,cover design by Mara McKinnon:Simple and elegant.  The central object, which is prominent in each storyline, is changed out with each book.  I can tell a Cut &Run book in a heartbeat.

2. Lost Gods series by Megan Derr, design by London Burden. Each cover is a map of the kingdom the story is set in.  The color is important as it is a prime element for each kingdom and its culture.  Blue for the kingdom of Kundou, a land to whom the sea is all important.  It’s people have hair in all shades of blue and green, the color of water.  The orange/red cover of Burning Bright is self explanatory and so on. Subtle, expressive, simple on the surface yet contains hidden meanings just like the books.

3. Sanctuary Series by RJ Scott, artist/cover design by Reese Dante.  Each cover depicts the two men who will be the novel’s romantic couple, usually one is a Sanctuary op.  The design stays the same with the men being switched out.  The models are  consistent with the descriptions of the men inside.  Reese Dante  does the fantastic design.

4. Dance With The Devil series by Megan Derr, design by London Burden.  Effective use of a simple graphic design where the object floating in the center of a black cover is switched out for each new book. Again the main element is important  to the storyline. Effective, elegant, and easy to recognize that the books belong together without having to resort to the publishers note.

4. Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane, cover design by Scott Carpenter: All the covers have a lovely vintage feel to them, sepia toned with elements such as furniture, buildings and mens clothing from 1900’s included on the design. Unfortunately, the last cover from Samheim had a more modern looking model which threw off the design. The newest title in the series has a completely different look as it was published at the different company. Can you pick it out?

3.  Superpowered Love by Katey Hawthorne, artist P.L. Nunn:  Just wonderful art by PL Nunn, the covers really set the stage for the stories within.  I just love these.  Again while the content changes, the style is the same and makes the books easy to identify.

4. Infected series by Andrea Speed, art by Anne Cain, cover design by Mara McKinnon: These covers blow me away.  Intense, dramatic, with that hint of menace.  Outstanding.  They are offered to download at Andrea Speed’s website.  I grabbed them, you will want to as well. Andrea Speed’s website

5. Cattle Valley Series by Carol Lynne, art by Anne Cain.  It doesn’t matter if it is Book 2, Book 12 or Book 23, you can tell it is a Cattle Valley book immediately due to the great design and artwork by the wonderful Anne Cain.  This series is branded, folks! Total E Bound does more of a series branding than any other publisher or so it seems to me.

6. Sci-Regency Series by JL Langley, cover by Anne Cain.  Sigh!  I love Anne Cain and her artwork.  Especially her cover for My Fair Captain.  That one is so drool worthy that I have to bring out the towels. Yeah, I know TMI!  But just look at that chest!  And the same goes for the other two books in the series, the last of which, My Regelence Rake, is to be released in October 2012.

7.  Leopard’s Spots series by Bailey Bradford, artwork by Posh Gosh. What a lush, rich group of covers,  They are like a feast for the eyes, I just don’t know where to look next.  The design pulls your eye around the cover, so nothing is missed.  Just superb.

So that’s my short  list. What is yours? Yes, I see the same artists over and over on covers I like.  Anne Cain, PL Nunn, Reese Dante, Posh Gosh and London Burden.  Lately I have also noticed Alessia Brio too.  I know I have missed so many great artists, help me fill in the blanks.  And don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered in the contest.