The other day I saw an article from Amazing Facts listing: '30 Things That Need to Stage a Comeback' and agreed with just about all of them. By the time I read the 30th, I was already noting what I wish would make a comeback, and one kept coming back:
I hear you guys saying but there's good cover art now, it doesn't need to make a comeback, but I actually think it does. There are books and ebooks being released with blah covers that do nothing for their stories.
Just so you know, I'm wearing a readers hat on this one.
Take Jonathan Franzen, he's supposed to be one of the greatest writers of our time, and yet his latest book's cover doesn't make me want to pick it up. The same can be said for the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy, but I did end up buying it because I was about to board a flight without a book and a friend said I'd like it.
Considering the Larsson trilogy has been one of my favorites in many many years, I'm glad I picked it up despite the cover's lack of help.
Of course the cover isn't everything, the blurb plays a big part as well. However, if you aren't inspired to even pick up the book or move the mouse further to read the blurb, then it doesn't matter how good those 250 words are in laying out a fabulous story.
The perfect example of covers calling the shots for me can be found with Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. In 2001 I saw a cover that intrigued me, picked it up, and read the first line of the inside flap: "I've got to get out of here - I don't have a lot of time left." Sold! When on a trip to Canada, I noticed it in trade paperback format and liked the cover, but still thought the original hardcover spoke louder. Unfortunately, with the next two releases of the book in mass market, it went downhill.
Where'd the wow factor go?
Now, because I like to throw the occassonal twist into the mix, let me tell you about a rollercoaster ride with one particular author's covers. When I lived in England I walked through a WH Smith at a Mall and saw Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton in the paranormal section. They were horrible covers and when I mentioned it to a friend a few minutes later, they told me the books were for teen boys, so walked away. A few years later I was living in the US and saw a book called Obsidian Butterfly with a very intriguing cover, and bought the book [check out the UK version beside the US one below - big difference]. It wasn't until I'd finished it and went looking for the rest of the series that I rediscovered those original covers. In short, ugly cover + good story = great find, however, the story doesn't end there. The covers for the Anita Blake series are once again changing and they don't interest me [check out Bullet below], and it isn't helping that the stories have slipped as well.
In short, I say unique and interesting cover art needs to make a comeback!