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Has Kindle Killed the Book Cover?
Mon 16 Apr 2012
How designers are responding to e-readers

Daylight Saving came out in the U.K. in February, and in the months leading up to its release, the publisher used a novel strategy to generate interest in the teen novel: It placed a ticker at the bottom of the digital cover, counting down to the launch date. (It's still counting, now into a negative number.) In addition to the digital jacket's embedded clock, an underwater design ripples with the drag of a cursor, as if your finger could make waves through the screen. The interactive blue splashes (gimmicky, maybe) are nonetheless entrancing for the few minutes spent toying with the cover. And with that, the book has caught the eye of a potential buyer. Once purchased, of course, the water transforms into a static image, its graceful motion unsupported by the media formats in which it is ultimately consumed (print or the standard digital forms). The cover is seductive, but its spell is broken. Which brings to mind the tagline of Daylight Saving: "Can you save someone from something that's already happened?"

That question comes to bear on the book publishing industry. Digital reading is already happening, but electronic books have only barely begun to adapt to current habits and devices—not to mention forge new standards for either. The various constraints—technological, financial, and cultural—allow hardly any clarity in seeing what books will be, or how they will be. Especially if we are to judge them by their covers.

In November, at the Build 2011 conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a publisher-designer named Craig Mod told the crowd, "We're trying to bring order and form and boundaries to what is otherwise a boundless space" and went on to describe the "generalized marginalization of the cover that's happening in digital books." 

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The Atlantic

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Wes Brown