Today I’d like to talk about Cover Art, I’d like to talk about books and other products and what they’re wearing.
Because I’m confused.
To be fair, I am approaching 41, so this may be a symptom of senility setting in. But back in the day, Cover Art told you a great deal about the book, or any product, really. You could look at something like this:
And without even noticing the title or author name, say to yourself “Ah. This must be a fantasy book of some kind.”
I still see the books and things that lead readers by the nose so they know what to expect, but now I see covers like this:
Perhaps it’s just the nerd part of me, but the first thing I think is: “Ah. This is a book having to do something with the sciences. Something in Math, Physics or perhaps even Biology.” This is because a cross section of the nautilus shell has always been used to demonstrate the appearance of the Golden Mean and of a Fibonacci Sequence appearing in the Natural World. (If you did not understand what I just said, please reference the links). It does not make me think Romance Novel – which is where this cover art came off of.
And I’m seeing weird (to my eye) “cover art” in other places as well. Like this:
If I didn’t know prior that Golden Corral was an all you can eat buffet place, I would have thought this to be a furniture store or something, just based on the exterior. Although, this picture does illustrate a point about the purpose of cover art: It’s supposed to make the viewer ask questions – “Why did this person take this picture? What’s so awesome about a Golden Corral? And why is it canted odd?” The answer to the first two questions should be obvious based on the beginning of this paragraph. The third answer is because I’m tired and don’t want to switch to a different computer in a different room to use the good picture editing software, which would mean I would need to use a different LAN profile, safe files to different locations on the LAN, move things around 8 times and spend more than 3 hours working on this post, so I faked it out to make the picture level.
Or I could say I’m trying to be artistic, but let’s just stick with honesty.
There’s this funny which could also be called “cover art”even though it speaks more to expectations than to art– my husband got all excited when he saw the package label:
He started laughing when he saw the contents, a pajamas item I ordered for my 7 year old daughter:
I’m not sure how small women are in China, but when you use the vendor provided measurement system to determine the proper size for a CHILD, one would assume you are not buying “Sexy Underwear,” especially when the contents are the ordered item, and not some mix-up from the warehouse.
The purpose of cover art is not just to capture your reader’s eye with fabulous art (although that helps), it is to make the reader ask questions. What happened here? How does this scene relate to the story inside? Is the story potentially exciting? Romantic? Total Fantasy? Mystery? This is something I want to read in order to find out what this cover art is all about.
The best cover art I’ve seen recently that makes me ask all of these questions has been from a toy bag:
I don’t know what the hell happened at Freddy’s, but it was obviously messed up – I’m willing to bet it involved a black magic curse thing, maybe some drugs, perhaps even some horrifically murdered people dressed up as clowns after the crime. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AT FREDDY’S. I *NEED* TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AT FREDDY’S. Looking at this bag makes me feel like those gossipy ladies who want every single nano-byte of data regarding what happened. I want it in high-definition, 3-dimensional, interactive holographic surround sound.
The only reason I didn’t buy this toy is because I’m trying to not buy things unless I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO (Impulsive Me: “I NEED IT!” Responsible Me: “No, you don’t.” *slaps my own head* “Ow…”) and because Responsible Me is willing to bet that there is no story included with the bag, which would upset me, because my questions would all go unanswered.
Perhaps I’m just getting too old to understand the changing market. Perhaps “young people” don’t want to have their brains tickled by cover art that introduces questions about the book/product in their minds. Perhaps they just want to see something cool that grabs their face without the gnawing questions.
But still want to know what happened at Freddy’s.