Thursday, March 27, 2008

John Scalzi on cover art here. (Including an interesting comment from Tor's awesome paperback designer Pablo Defendini, daydreaming about future book design.)

3 comments:

Carl V. said...

I like PD's comments in there. I found the other comments quite interesting too. I was surprised that I seemed to be the lone wolf in regards to preferring the John Harris covers on Scalzi's books. Art is certainly a to each his own thing though.

colin said...

I preferred Harris' cover, but only slightly.

PD's comments are interesting, and hopeful (one could even hope for larger formats of the cover art than are possible with normal paper books), but I think they may be a bit over-optimistic. By the same logic, internet distribution of music could also lead to a boom in beautiful album (or single) art, or art and videos could have been distributed on CDs. It doesn't seem to have happened. There have been experiments, but mostly the art accompanying music has been trimmed down since the heyday of album art.

Possibly this was a mistake on the part of music companies, but I think it has to do with the way music is sold once it enters the digital realm. People don't browse, looking at album covers, they search, for names they know, or possibly they listen at sites like pandora or last.fm. The album cover is no longer as important to capture the browser's eye and help encourage a sale. Unfortunately, I can see the same thing happening for books, although I think we might have more time yet, because paper books are still the best platform for text (while music has graduated from big black disks, or even little silver ones). When we eventually see a real alternative to paper come around, it may mean, if not the end, at least the end of the golden age for book cover art.

I wouldn't be happy to see that happen, and I'd love to see PD's vision come true, but I worry, because I'm a worrier.

Pablo Defendini said...

Wow, thanks for the feedback, guys!

Colin, it is indeed a shame what's happened to album cover art, but I think that things may be a bit different with e-books, due to how the user interacts with the digital file. While with music you usually set the file to play and relegate your player to the background of your computing activities, with books you're directly interfacing with the file as you're reading it, so there may be more possibilities regarding added content.

Carl, I'm with ya, I also prefer Harris' covers for Scalzi's books! Harris is one of those artists who I discovered after starting at Tor, and it took me a second to warm up to his style. Now that I have, I enjoy him a whole lot.