What’s In A Cover?

I feel like, ‘-back-in-the-day-,’ when I came to the library, in the days when I still stood below 4-feet in height, many of the books in the library, maybe even half of them, it seemed, didn’t have “dust-jackets.” They stood on the shelfs, dust gathering at the top of their spines, naked and free of filmy polyester coats.

Like these now-rare specimens, seen left.

Don’t judge a book by its cover? Do we still?

The # 1 Best-selling book in the country started out without a cover, whatsoever. The S&M-tinged sensual/dramedy Fifty Shades of Grey has become the poster-child for the e-book phenomena in reading preferences – rising to national attention through, mostly, the word-of-mouth wildfire of curious/gossipy- book blogs, and eventually shining a white-hot spotlight on this trilogy of stories (themselves lampooned by many as being just a bit above amateurish), by an unknown author, first released by an independent “virtual”-publisher based in Australia. But you already know that – this book’s all over now… Is it killing the publishing industry?

Beyond that… The Atlantic posed the question: Has Kindle Killed the Book Cover?

But that inevitably begs the question of: just how important is the cover to you, the reader – do you need it to provoke, to endear, to entice, to alarm…to compel…you to open up to that first page, that first line… Books, thereby authors, suffer these fickle trivialities much more so than albums, thereby musicians. An album can have an awful, even offensive cover, and it won’t matter because the lead single will be played on the radio or streamed on a blog -no visuals required- the impact is all aural – whereas Stephen King or Jonathan Franzen or, yes, E.L. James won’t be reading you 3-minute clips, radio-singles-worth of a few pages, to whet your appetite.

Before e-books…back to those days before flappy, colorful, dust-jacketed-book covers became standard, before we all got out of the library (like my 4-ft-self) and relied upon the scroll of our mobile devices, we had to either go by faith and open up the blank, sky-blue cover and just go-with-it…

The artwork… and in some cases, “artwork” of the book’s cover is, sometimes, the only tangible connection towhat-the-dang-thing’s-about-outside of the squall of words spilled upon the pages, all knotted-up in inky serifs and rambling paragraphs.

(Intriguingly, for rare/first-edition-book collectors, the condition of those plasticy, poly-shrink-wrapped dust jackets has become a determining factor of worth over the years).

But now, in these days, the rise-of-the-e-book… we have sites like Booktango, an online ebook-editor and ebook-converter – MarketWatch recently ran this story: marketable e-book covers: Booktango Introduces Revolutionary Free E-Book Cover Designer

What a brave new world—for cover-artists, publishers, writers… and E-Readers.

Why do you open a book? How open-minded can we be?







In other news – much of the literary world chuckled and cocked eyebrows at the latest blockbuster slopped into cinemaplexes across America – that being the Raven – in which John Cusack,High Fidelity-John Cusack, plays the father of modern Detective stories – Edgar Allen Poe – in a story where the famous auteur of the macabre is enlisted to help catch a killer (his # 1 fan) who is slicing up his victims with Poe-inspired pendulums-and-the-like…

The Huffington Post asked: What is John Cusack reading these days? While Comic-Book-Mom pits Vincent Price’s Poe vs. Cusack’s…

And, since Poe’s works like Murders in the Rue Morgue are popularly credited with inventing quintessential detective-story formulas, we should note, via the Guardian that: “First ever detective novel back in print after 150 years. ” –wonder what the cover looks like?

In other Poe news: The Edgar Awards have been announced (that goes to writing in Mystery).

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