judging books by their covers
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    judging books by their covers

    I was largely influenced to start drawing because of how much I loved the illustrated covers, but recently I've noticed a large trend, especially in the YA section, for cover illustrations to be badly photoshopped stock images featuring mildly attractive models with most of the focus on the faces.

    It really disappoints me to see this because a) I think most of them are hideous and b) there are so many talented artists out there who need work and could do a fantastic job of it but aren't being given the chance.

    I guess it is probably cheaper for the publishing company to hire someone to photoshop something in a couple hours rather than pay someone with actual talent to do a good job, but I can't imagine how it would possibly help their book sales.

    whats worse though, IMO, is when a book has a perfectly lovely cover and then then gets reprinted with a photoshopped one.

    vs

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    am I the only one who gets ridiculously annoyed by these things? just wondering lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepingrabbit View Post
    am I the only one who gets ridiculously annoyed by these things? just wondering lol
    I assure you, your annoyance is infinitesimal (and also merely theoretical) next to mine.


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    I blame Twilight.




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    Quote Originally Posted by littlebones View Post
    I blame Twilight.

    Well shit. Which one is which? ಠ_ಠ

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    oh god, the "hands-holding-things" phenomenon. Thanks for posting that one, I almost forgot about it........

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    I don't know if this can be credited to Twilight, but yeah, those new book covers look like they're made to forcibly appeal to the "girl romance crowd". I mean seriously, especially that first one looks like it's some sort of dreamy romance novel that probably takes place in a stable. The horse might also be the love interest.

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    All girl-and-horse books are, at their core, romances.


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    I don't like those book covers either, they look so cheesy.
    The illustrated ones do make me want to read the book (specially the Under the Jolly Roger one) , but the photomanipulated ones make me think it's one of those... romance novels...

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    It's ironic because I was just looking at some of Dan Dos Santos' illustrations and thinking, "I hate it when I want to read a book because it has a beautifully illustrated cover only to find out that the actual writing inside is crap." Then I opened "Art Discussion" and saw your thread, heh.

    Anyway, I agree, I would never have known Brandon Sanderson if it wasn't for Dos Santos' Warbreaker cover. Sanderson's one of my favorites now thanks to that.

    I would speculate that turning books into movies is the main reason for "realistic" book covers to be appealing to the current generation. That and it being trendy.

    E-Books have also been mentioned here before. Who wants to pay for an amazing painting when it's just going to become a thumbnail on Amazon?

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    ...I'll say it.


    I am wholly and completely guilty of judging books by their covers.


    There.

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    The only people that care, are the people that want to create the artwork.

    The plankton do not care. Standards by any measure, is the 'K' word in a room full of people of the Jewish faith.

    It's like the 'C' word to a room full of women.



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    OmenSpirits- I'd say it definitely effects the reader demographic by a lot, and people who would have read a book with one cover may steer clear of anything that looks remotely like trashy romance. It's not just about standards but also about marketing, and personally I think that a photoshopped cover is even less accessible and targeted to a smaller demographic than a painted one is.

    /shrugs

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    Not according to art directors who insist they have to use these covers because their sales reps want them and the sales rep insists crowds of readers demand it. They swear by their marketing research

    http://theartorder.com/2012/02/06/my...-based-covers/

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    Thanks for the link. I guess if its all readers demands then, my disappointment should lay with the consumers who are incapable of appreciating decent art...

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    I don't know how many bland fantasy novels I bought because it had Justin Sweet's art on the cover, but it was a lot.

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    This.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    All girl-and-horse books are, at their core, romances.
    That makes me want to write a girl-and-horse horror novel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conniekat8 View Post
    I heard some of the publishers pay serious peanuts for the book covers? Something like $50 for full color. Is that true?
    Seems like that could be part of the reason for a lot of slap-jobs?
    Depends on what you mean by a "publisher." But basically no, that's far from true.


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    That's the way of things it seems. I've also brought it up a couple of times. Compare b-movie/pulp/game covers of contemporary releases to the stuff from the 80s. I do understand though, I mean for indie developers/self-publishers and such it will save them a lot of money.

    But I think a lot of movies and books get immortalised from their painted covers alone. We remember them and make the effort to track them down. (and then get disappointed at the utterly shite contents...BUT it was the awesome artists that convinced us to do it.) A lot of these digital stock covers are utterly soulless and leave no impact at all.

    Last edited by Star Eater; February 26th, 2012 at 03:53 AM.
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    But drawered things are for kids. Photos are for adults...

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    Personally what I can't stand is science fiction books with cheap plastic 3d renders and puke colors on book covers.



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    Gotta admit that from the guesstimated seven hundred books in my room I haven't bought/not bought a single one for its cover. I read the blurb and maybe a couple of online reviews and buy it, be the picture pretty or shitty. Maybe one was more attention-grabbing than the other but I'm equally attracted to those plain "title-without-any-picture" books as to the "really elaborate painted cover" books. I only care about the story and don't give a rat's ass about what's on the cover. (Is that blasphemy coming from someone who loves illustration? Maybe the literary nerd in me is just stronger.)

    Then again, I may not be the target demography for this stuff.

    EDIT: Gotta mention my eternal devotion to and undying love of any and all Discworld illustrations by Paul Kidby, though.

    Last edited by Kjesta; February 26th, 2012 at 07:20 AM.


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    I know I might get crucified for this, but I find the majority of ultra realistic illustrated covers to be just as boring as photo-based covers. Sure they are
    more attractive and impressive for about 5 seconds but, it's made to look like a photo so it's like shooting yourself in the foot (ok not really but you get my
    point).

    On the other hand, covers like say, those by Josh Kirby are awesomely interesting and attractive. I see people looking at those a lot more than any
    ultra realistic cover.

    But, if photo-manipulated covers sell more than a photo-realistic illustration, it may possibly follow that photo-realistic illustration sells more than...non
    photo-realistic illustration...Or does it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farvus View Post
    Personally what I can't stand is science fiction books with cheap plastic 3d renders and puke colors on book covers
    Dear me those are horribly shit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Line View Post
    I know I might get crucified for this, but I find the majority of ultra realistic illustrated covers to be just as boring as photo-based covers. Sure they are
    more attractive and impressive for about 5 seconds but, it's made to look like a photo so it's like shooting yourself in the foot (ok not really but you get my
    point).
    That's my opinion too actually. More often simple minimalistic image with elegant typography and a bit of graphic design works better than elaborate scenes with tons of details that don't read at all on small book cover.

    However from artistic perspective if it has to be realistic then I wish there was more thought attention put into covers.

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    One reason I don't like photo covers is that they detract from your imagination, especially those with the characters blazed across the cover. I want to make my own mind up about what a person looks like. I prefer those illustration where you can only just discern the features. Historical novels are very much poorer by having a photo cover of someone dressed up in period costume.


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    @Farvus: I wasn't implying that the cover should be minimalistic or cartoony and non realistic, just that ultra photoreal images 1) come so close to being a photograph that it makes no sense to not use a photo (barring cost) and 2) most of the times the artwork lacks anything to make it stick to your mind because it's too realistic, static and close to reality (barring romance novels).

    I saw a piece by a famous artist these past few days, a highly realistic one. While it's a technical miracle, I found it boring as hell. The character was unimaginative, and ok that's the writers' fault but, the pose was just that...a pose. We are supposed to believe the character was "doing" something, yet was painted in totally static! Even other elements in the picture that were painted in that couldn't be static under the circumstance the artist created were in perfect stasis! It made me question not only the artist from a particular point of view, but also the thought process behind the AD choice because as a reader who looks at covers first to find something that sparks my imagination before I check the synopsis of the book, that image would never make me even pick the book up! And this is a high profile artist mind you. Might as well had gone for the photo version!

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    I guess the photo lends the book, as product and content, the glamour and cache of the movies.
    I've noticed the Mills and Boon romances have gone over to photo covers. Although the contents are still the cliche ridden crap they always were, the photo cover hypes the impression of greater emotional verisimilitude and therefore stronger brew.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; February 26th, 2012 at 08:33 AM.
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    Line - Yeah. I get what you mean. I sometimes wonder what some of the professional images presented on art communities are used for in publishing. There are many very photorealistic but static images completely devoid of atmosphere and I can't really imagine them on books. Maybe some could be used as posters and I see this type of art sometimes used on boxed computer game covers. That doesn't feel much though in comparison to the amount of images appearing on the net.

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    This hasn't been mentioned yet. My beef isn't about illustrated vs. non-illustrated covers. I only care that it captures the spirit of the book well. So my ultimate beef is when books get the dreaded Now a Major Motion Picture cover, and then you can never find them in anything else. I have yet to get myself copies of Mrs. Dalloway and No Country for Old Men because all I can find are the movie covers. But I refuse to buy movie covers, or Oprah-emblazoned covers. I guess I'm too picky, but it's my bookshelf.

    And while I'm at it I just want to put one of my favourite illustrated covers here:



    It wraps around the spine and to the back. It's incredibly hard to find a full-sized copy of it.

    What I miss are cool illustrations inside books. I read one book a couple years ago, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, that had really well-done illustrations within the pages. I wish that would come back and wasn't just dismissed as kid stuff.

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    EDIT: I just remembered. To the person who said eBooks might contribute to the death of the illustrated cover, I hope this new eBook-only cover for Ender's Game makes you feel more optimistic.




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