The era of the anonymous reader is upon us.You can’t tell a book by its cover anymore as so many people are replacing old-fashioned books with electronic readers, Kindles, and the much anticipated Apple iPad available this coming Saturday.
The advent of the e-book brings a new chapter to powers of observation traditionally embraced by print book readers – at the beach, on the subway, on a plane – and on the proverbial coffee table: It’s no longer possible to see what others are reading, nor to publically display your own literary preferences.
The element of free advertising is gone – and the residual bump publishers achieved from book cover sales is a thing of the past. In bookstores, still the primary place of book sales, covers remain a crucial tool. “If you have already passed that hurdle of having a customer be attracted to the cover, and then they pick up the book, an enormous battle has been won,” according to Patricia Bostelman, VP, Marketing at Barnes & Noble.[more]
More people are involved in creating a book jacket than any other single piece of the publishing process. Included in the decision: a creative director; editors, author and agent; publisher; sales force; bookseller. Graphic presentation can’t rescue a bad book, but it can help sales in an oversaturated market. Of the 1,000 books about business published in 2009, only 62 sold 5,000 copies or more. (Codex Group)
Marketing in the digital era requires adjustment to the medium. “We often get requests to make the type bigger, because when it’s on Amazon, you can’t read the author’s name,” explains Mario J. Pulice, creative director, adult trade division, Little, Brown & Company.
The Facebook effect is good news for publishers. “Before, you might see three people reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ on the subway. Now you’re going to log onto Facebook and see that three of your friends are reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ ” comments Clare Ferraro, President, Viking and Plume, Penguin Group USA.
On the other hand, digital publishers speculate that erotica and romance titles are flourishing in e-book editions due to the discretionary privacy… a.k.a. cover anonymity, afforded by the e-reader.
As the e-book industry sorts itself out, one thing remains true – you still can’t judge a book by its cover… particularly if you can’t see it.