eReading has freed our choices!

On occasion, I have chosen to avoid reading a particular book because I was hesitant about what people might think of me for reading it. When I first read Stephen King’s “It”, the cover at the time was a fairly nondescript cover which didn’t give much away: it was simply an image of a storm drain with a distinctly reptilian hand reaching out towards a paper boat bobbing in the gutter. Ominous, yes; but not as scary as some of the newer covers I’ve seen – especially the one with Tim Curry’s sinister clown-face and shocking red hair. I think my mother would have had all kinds of objections to her 15 year old daughter reading a book with a cover like that.

One of the challenges to reading widely with physical books, is the fact that they lend themselves to pre-judgement based on their covers. This is not true with eBooks – when you’re reading an eBook, no one can see the cover of what you’re reading., just the device you are reading on. Think of how many people bought and read the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy. Most of that reading was done on eReaders. I’ve known a few people who admit to having read the trilogy after the fact, but I am almost positive most (if not all) of them would have resisted buying those books in paperback and reading in public.

Being able to read whatever you want on an eReader kind of releases you from that hesitancy, doesn’t it? Now we can read all sorts of books without wondering if anyone is looking at the book cover and thinking, “What on earth is she reading?” Erotica is just one genre that traditionally wasn’t read very widely due to the stigma attached to consuming questionable (?) literature. There are a wide number of other books and genres that people shy away from reading – for instance, reading the “Koran” in paperback or hardcover is likely to raise many eyebrows in this day and age. Yet many theists insist that knowing what is in the “Koran” as intimately as knowing what is in the Christian bible is almost a requirement for intelligent discourse. Electronic readers have solved that problem too.

Image upload on 2013-06-20 at 15_36_47Nevertheless, a cover is still a very important aspect to marketing your book. As a reader, I know I have seen plain eBook covers and bypassed them because the cover doesn’t adequately tell me anything about the story. A catchy title isn’t enough. The big name authors can get away with plain-jane book covers because their history and name is enough to draw their regular readership in. Furthermore, their faithful readers are likely to spread the word about their eBook with a nondescript cover. Most of Lee Child’s eBook covers are completely nondescript. Take for example one of his latest: “The Affair”. Yet most of us faithful Child readers will tell you that “The Affair” is just as good as any other of Child’s Reacher novels. The author’s name and the name of his main character sells the book.

For us up and coming writers, we don’t have that luxury. Our eBook covers need to be enticing, intriguing, captivating. They need to tell a tale of their own, drawing the potential reader in. As editor at, I see so many eBooks coming in without covers, or with covers that are just artistically wanting. And while “free” has it’s own pitch, I really wish our authors would spend as much time on their book covers as they do their words. It’s a whole package. So, remember that neglecting to give your eBook an attractive cover can be the difference between 100 downloads and a 1000.

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