January #InkRipples: The Allure of a Book Cover

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on January 2, 2017 in Art, Books, Creativity, Elixir Bound, Fantasy, Ink Ripples, Middle Grade, Writing, Young Adult |

Welcome to #InkRipples 2017! It looks like it’s going to be a big year for #InkRipples with lots of new bloggers joining Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and me (Katie L. Carroll) in our monthly meme. We’re starting off the year by talking about book covers.

The rise of online shopping and ebooks have changed the way I view a book cover. It’s a much less tactile experience than it used to be. Often my first exposure to a book is a small picture of the cover on a screen. Any kind of texture it might have is not evident, and the small details are hard to discern.

This creates a new challenge for cover designers. How do you simultaneously create a cover that pops on a bookshelf and stands out in a small picture on a screen? Well, I’m no cover designer, so that’s not a question I can answer. I can, however, share some of my favorite book covers and why I like them.

Silver Phoenix (Kingdom of Xia, #1)The hardcover of Cindy Pon’s YA fantasy SILVER PHOENIX immediately grabbed my attention the first time I saw it. The colors are bold and gorgeous (something about the combo of the pink and blue hit all the right aesthetics for me), and the yellow/gold color in the background makes it looks like the cover is glowing. I get a strong sense of character from the cover model and hints of the fantasy world I’m about to delve into.

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)Another favorite YA fantasy cover is Melina Marchetta’s FROI OF THE EXILES. The colors are subtle, but, again, the use of color to convey light is so effective in catching my eye. The somber expression of the cover model and the sword hilt in layered in front of his face give it a dangerous feel, and the mountains at the bottom provide a sense of mystery. Looking at these two first examples, I’m noticing they both have clouds and a sunset (sunrise?) in them. Not sure what to make of that similarity, but felt worth pointing out.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)I have the Harry Potter books in the British and U.S. versions, but for me, nothing tops the covers of the U.S. hardcover editions. The illustrations of Mary GrandPré are superb. It’s hard to pick a favorite (maybe Half-Blood Prince), but the first book serves as a beautiful example of a magical middle grade cover. The movement of Harry, the sense of wonder every detail evokes, the magical elements to it, the iconic font of Harry’s name…I could go on, but let’s just say these covers are among my all-time favorites.

Imaginary GirlsSo many of my favorite covers are fantasy ones, but I wanted to include something more contemporary. Nova Ren Suma’s IMAGINARY GIRLS has fantastical elements to it but is also deeply rooted in a more contemporary world. The calmness of the girl underwater creates so much drama and intrigue. Is she drowning? If she is, why is she so calm? And again, it comes back to color. The tranquil blue juxtaposed by the pop of red ribbon, and the utter paleness of the girl. Well, this cover totally made me want to read the book!

What aspects of a book cover grab your attention? What are some of your favorite book covers? Next week, I’ll be posting about how the cover of my YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND came to be.

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Katie L. Carroll, Mary Waibel, and Kai Strand. We pick a topic (January is all about book covers), drop a ripple in the inkwell (i.e. write about it on our blogs), and see where the conversation goes. We’d love to have you join in the conversation on your own blogs or on your social media page. Full details and each month’s topic can be found on my #InkRipples page.

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  • Kai says:

    All great covers. I’m not one to analyse why a book catches my attention, I just know when a cover does, I immediate proceed to the blurb to see if it’s something I want to read. Sometimes I’ll simply start reading.

    • Yes, blurbs are super-important to me, too, when cold shopping for a book (meaning not looking for something specific and just browsing). A good cover will pull me in, but there’s got to be more than a pretty face. 😉

  • Mary says:

    Those are some great examples of gorgeous covers, Katie!!

  • Joan Curtis says:

    I loved the covers you shared, particularly the Harry Potter and the Imaginary Girls. Book covers can be such fun and such devils! As writers it’s so scary to realize once we pick a cover, that’s it. No going back. Yikes!

  • Joan Curtis says:

    Hi Katie, I thought I commented on this yesterday. I loved the Harry Potter cover and the one for the Imaginary Girls. Very enticing. You’re right about the power of the cover for online shopping. Because we can’t touch it the way we used to, it makes the cover even more important for pulling in readers.

  • Mirka Breen says:

    So true that publishers must think of how a cover works as a thumbnail image. like everything else, the E-world has made us look at everything with a different eye.

  • Amy Laurel says:

    I agree that color has a lot to do with what catches my eye, but so does the image of a person, dragon, or abstract object. Combine it with the title to give me a feel for the story’s theme and tone and I’m excited to crack it open!

  • Great choices. My favorite of these is Silver Phoenix. <3 the colors, the fonts, and the image!

  • Beverly says:

    Covers do attract my attention and make me want to know more about the story. I have to write my post now. Running behind.

    • Looking forward to your post, Beverly! We always like to say that #InkRipples is a no pressure situation…post when you get to it (and skip a month if you need to). 🙂

  • C M Savage says:

    Color definitely grabs my attention. I love the contrast on the cover of Silver Phoenix. I agree that although the color may grab my attention, the title and picture are the determining factors on whether or not I pick up a book to explore further.

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