We Are The New Book Covers

Auren Hoffman of Summation and Seth Godin had two very interesting posts in the last week. Seth’s, comes from the old school perspective. Aurens comes from a new school perspective.

Seth’s post, The Purpose of a Book Cover, describes the role a book cover has in selling a book. In it he writes:

“Tactically, the cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you’ve sold the book.”

“Books are better at creating conversations than most products.”

“Some ways that a book cover can accomplish its mission:

* Noticeable across the room (you see that lots of other people own it, thus making it likely that you’ll want to know why)”

Understanding Seth’s point. Auren has an interesting observations in his blog post, Book Conversations and the Imposition of the Kindle. In the post Auren observes how Kindle’s limit the ability for people to see what your reading and therefore it stunts the conversation.

. . . as we all move to reading books on our devices, we wont know what people in our proximity are reading anymore and conversations between strangers will go down.

This inability to have a book “Noticeable across the room” will impact the value of the book cover. The Kindle is going to viciously maim book covers as a way to sell books. The new book cover will be you and me.

As more and more people buy books online through the Kindle we will be unable to look to book covers to sell us. We will look to our social networks. We will decide to buy based on Twitters, Facebook, and LinkedIN. More and more of us will use applications like ReadingList by Amazon to share with our social networks what we are reading. Future versions of the Kindle will have a sharing component that Twitters or shares the books you download every time you download a new one.

I think Auren had a great observation. We are moving away from a time where we could see what people were reading. This will create fewer opportunities for face to face offline conversations. It will provide less opportunities for the book cover to do it’s job of creating conversations. Even more than before, books will have to be good, because we are the new book covers and if the book is not good, it won’t matter what’s on the cover.

Seth is/was right book covers sell the book by “teeing up the reader so the book has maximum impact.” But that is changing. Moving forward it won’t be the book covers selling the book, it will be you and me. Tactically, their won’t be a cover to sell the back, to sell the flap to then have you buy the book. It will be; you see it on a friends Facebook status, it shows up in your Twitter stream 3 times, it’s in your mom’s Amazon Reading list, so you download a sample to your Kindle and then if you like what you read you buy the rest, all without ever really knowing what the book cover looked liked.

Book Covers are dead!