Book websites and the art of covers

As regular readers know, I’m really big on making stories with a high degree of supplemental media; art, music, interactive websites, whatever works with that book. That, to me, is the ideal aim with most written work. Not because it needs it, but because it meshes together so well to create a larger experience for a fan.

Stephen King’s latest offering is titled 11/22/63. While I really kind of love making a date the title to a book, so many parts of the world work with the format of day/month/year, so it encounters the problem of not being universal. Nevertheless, the title is so interesting on its own, I actually clicked the link in one of my bookstore subscription newsletters just to find out what it was (I know, I’m awfully sheltered from industry news at the moment).

I admit, the cover art came as a surprise. The US get a very striking cover, torn paper, cream, red and black colour scheme, a nicely “aged” look. It’s a strong cover, good layout, very bold and appealing. I really love it.

Then we get… a lens flare? No, no, no, no, really. A lens flare, made to look like it represents some kind of time warp, since the story is based around a character who goes back in time and all. Having seen the fantastic cover art for the US release, I cannot express how disappointing the UK/Aus artwork is to me. The only striking thing about it is how someone could have honestly thought using a standard lens flare on this novel was a good idea.

It’s not that lens flares are inherently bad, it’s just they are so overused, and so basic. That artwork would have taken a proficient computer artist all of a minute to create, with no exaggeration. Of course that’s disappointing. What made them think our market is so different that we wouldn’t love the original US cover?

Complaints aside, there is a very neat website associated with this book, and it made me super happy to see other authors leaning the same direction and including a greater degree of content to accompany their books! Have a little click around 11/22/63 and see the awesome touches around the site!

~A

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5 thoughts on “Book websites and the art of covers

  1. I will admit, that lens flare looks a lot better than many I’ve seen on book covers. Although, the American cover really is in a different league style-wise.
    That tends to be a common problem. While sometimes, you’ll get lucky and covers might actually be universal (excluding translated versions), a lot of times different parts of the world get different covers. While not always bad, it can cause confusion and, in some cases like this, even disappointment or outrage.

    1. Oh yes, considering some of the examples out there, this lens flare is relatively tasteful. I just know that their choice means they are appealing to a VERY different audience than the US cover. With growing globalisation/connectedness, cultural standards are actually syncing up a whole lot more than they used to. There wouldn’t have been any problems keeping the same (awesome) original cover. You know, in my opinion. 😄

      ~A

      1. Yeah, exactly. I mean, this particular lens flare does have quality to it and the overall cover does manage to show what you mentioned above – but it’s appealing to a different audience, like you said.

  2. I can see the time-warpiness of the flare, but it’s rather…underwhelming compared to the original.

    It also bothers me when the author’s name is written SO MUCH LARGER than the title, especially since in some of those designs, the title ends up almost invisible. If I’m allowed any say in the matter, I’m requesting that my titles always be printed larger than my name on anything I publish in print.

    1. Underwhelming is a very good word for it (especially after I saw the cover in person).

      In these cases, it’s selling the author before its selling the book. I suppose that’s fine, except from a design standpoint. On the US cover, it looks well balanced, and there isn’t too much size differences. On the UK/Aus, it’s hugely top-heavy.

      ~A

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