Friday, 23 November 2007
Books and Their Covers
A while after Matt's post on the latest ebook technology yesterday, Will sent through the first draft of the cover for The Dog of the North. I can't share it yet, but it's enough for now to say that I'm thrilled with it. For Macmillan, covers clearly are important--and by extension, they're important to readers too. But that's only the case for physical books. An ebook may have a cover of sorts, but not in the way a casual browser would recognise.
The purist in me says that covers are in any event irrelevant to the content of the book, and that our work should stand or fall on the basis of the prose. In the longer run, that's true: but for that to be the case, someone has to read it first. And more people are likely to read--and with any luck enjoy--the book if the cover is eye-catching and engaging.
The non-purist in me (the reader rather than the writer, if you like) simply goggled in awe and amazement when I saw what Macmillan's cover people had come up with. As the proud parent, my responses will naturally be exaggerated, but I hope that when the cover is on the bookshelves next year, it induces browsers to pick up the book, read the blurb, then maybe open it and read the first few pages... and then I'm on my own.
It's part of the reason why, for me, ebooks will never be more than a minority interest: useful and practical for people on the move, but no substitute for a collection of books. Even a ratty old paperback, as long as the spine's intact, can be a thing of beauty. I'm all for ebooks--anything which makes reading easier and more convenient can only help writers. But I don't think I'll ever own one.