by: Joelle Charbonneau
So – e-books have changed the publishing game. While I don’t favor reading books on screen, I am willing to admit this is true. I’m also willing to admit that many things about the purely e-book publishing model baffle me. (For the purposes of this particular discussion purely e-book refers to both the e-publishing company versions as well as the self-published books equally.)
Take covers for instance. I understand why covers have always been important for a book. As a reader browsing the bookstore, the cover will either have me picking up a book I was otherwise unfamiliar with or rejecting it before ever reading the flap copy. People say you can’t judge a book by its cover – but really – isn’t that what covers are for? I judge them all the time. For good or for ill, covers are the main marketing tool in a bookstore. (This only works for the author if the bookstore actually stocks the book – but that’s a discussion for another day.)
What I don’t understand is whether covers have the same importance in the virtual bookstore. Yes – an e-book only author still needs a marketing tool for their website, social media and the blogs they might visit. Covers are great for that. And if you are with an e-book publishing company you probably get your cover displayed along side other covers on their website. That’s good, too. But does an e-book cover have the same ability to invoke impulse purchases that a physical cover does?
I don’t know. Honest. Perhaps this is because I don’t peruse the virtual shelves the way I do the physical ones. In the physical store, I’m looking for the unknown author – the next great gem that I can’t wait to delve into. In the virtual store I’m searching for specific authors and titles. I find them. I buy them. I leave the website. I don’t browse.
So I guess I’m looking for the real e-book reader (which clearly isn't me) to give me their perspective. How important is a cover to you in the digital world? When you’re searching for a specific title does the cover help you decide whether or not to hit the buy button? Or are you like me? Are you searching for authors you know either personally, virtually or through their previous work where the work is more important than the image on the screen? How do you do your e-book shopping? Does the virtual cover truly make the same impact as a physical one? Tell me! I really want to know.