Cover Judgement and Other Bad Behaviors

Philosoraptor from MemeBase - Book CoverIt’s sort of embarrassing to admit in some ways, but I definitely judge books by their covers. That’s not to say I won’t read one if the cover’s so-so or even mediocre provided I’ve had to recommended to me from a reliable source… However, I am drawn to books with covers that do not offend my eyes. And I think it’s a problem that everyone faces in the publishing industry because bad covers can come from a wide variety of sources. 

Maybe this is just me but I think there is, quite frankly, nothing worse than a bad book cover. Nothing makes me crankier than the sad sadness that is the ones on Amazon or Barnes & Noble that often feature nightmare-colored font that is barely legible superimposed over someone’s black and white picture of a stretch of highway or a fugly barn. Or some really bad Boris Vallejo knock-off of a winged valkyrie on a motorcycle that you can’t see because the cover is dripping day-glo letters all over her.

I don’t care if the book enclosed is made of pure magic and rainbows. Or if a curse has been placed upon the tome in question and if only I can stop being shallow and look past its hideousness, I’ll end up with a fairy prince to marry and a pet unicorn to ride on. It’ll be hard to convince me to give the book much more than a glance as I scroll on by.

I realize it’s expensive in a lot of cases, but I really hope indie authors as well as very small presses can work on better covers or contact some nice, talented artist to work out some kind of deal. Or at the very least try to get a cover that is less offensive to the eyes and more neutral rather than a rejected design for R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps. Nothing is more important than a book cover that doesn’t take away from the book’s contents.

All the same, I would much prefer to read a book with a hideous cover if the artwork was obtained by honest means than to ever read anything from Trestle Press,* which apparently decided any and all Google Images were up for grabs for book covers with no questions asked ever. Then proceeded to lie not only to its authors but its readers and the internet in general about getting permission from artists. Just check out how much art theft was unearthed by Luis Vera (doodle777). Or this post. Or this post. Or feel free to Google “Trestle Press Art Theft” to learn more about the mishegosh known as Trestlegate.  

Sadly, despite the art being removed and lots of authors doing the right thing and walking away, Trestle Press is still around. And more books are coming out very soon. It really wouldn’t surprise me if the covers were still coming though less than scrupulous channels, but beyond that? Here’s hoping that potential readers and authors can figure out what they’re getting themselves into beforehand.

* This might seem silly, but I refuse to link directly to this so-called Press for any reason whatsoever. The other posts I’ve linked to speak for themselves and give more than enough insight into what’s going on whereas the Trestle Press website will tell you nothing about it at all.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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7 Responses to Cover Judgement and Other Bad Behaviors

  1. yaykisspurr says:

    It’s good to know about Trestle Press and people like them. Thanks!

    • April says:

      Glad it helps! I tend to avoid talking about small presses behaving badly because I really love small presses… but in this case it was totally unavoidable.

  2. Although perfectly legal, I also get annoyed when someone uses the same stock photo as another similar book without making many changes to the original image. There’s a book published by Snowbooks that has been copied on 2 different self pubbed books. OK Snowbooks aren’t a huge publisher it could be an honest mistake but all 3 covers look identical apart from for the title/author – and the Snowbooks one has a far nicer font.

    I do buy books just for the covers but I appreciate the artwork and owning them for aesthetic value even if the writing is rubbish (which it rarely is, care taken over the cover is a sign of care in the whole process).

    • April says:

      Oh definitely. That’s not very good form at all. It also would make me a wee bit suspicious of the other books with the same cover, but then there’s been a lot of weird copying and plagerizing going on lately. Because really I think it would be hard for people to keep track of who has the same stock image although it would be good to try to find out if someone already has just for uniqueness’ sake.

      (That’s so true! A cover really needs to reflect the care or lack thereof put into a book.)

  3. I think a good cover is very important. Granted a plain boring cover could hold a brilliant masterpiece inside but the cover is what will catch the eye. I admit to being a cover whore. Having said that seeing the same cover on a ton of books is also annoying isn’t anyone original anymore? As for image theft that’s just a no no I mean no author wants their work taken so why do the same on a cover. Put lot’s of effort into it create something eye catching and awesome and don’t be lazy about it. It will pay off in the long run.

    • April says:

      Originality definitely seems to be a bit lacking. I also wish certain weird trends were less popular. Such as the cutting off the top of models’ heads and such.

      I totally agree about image theft being just the same as stealing written work. In this case, the publisher really ought to have cared more about his authors as well as the artists he took from. Looking at what he did to the images he took and how he didn’t deliver on edits for authors, I just don’t think he cares much at all. Which is definitely a shame.

  4. Red Bear says:

    GOOD IDEAS, SHARING AND WRITING.
    RED BEAR

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