September 18, 2018
How does social media influence book covers?
by Erica Huang
In a 2013 New Yorker article, Tim Kreider observed a trend in lacking cover design and his own difficulty in creating a marketable cover. He wrote,
Although the covers of my favorite books are dear to me by association—even the drab academic cover of Vintage’s Beyond Good and Evil, with its scab/lint/mucus palette, carries a kind of dark illicit charge for me, the same way the inert, clunky silhouette of the Fat Man atom bomb holds its quiet kilotons—I can’t remember the last cover that caught my eye in a store and caused me to pick up, read around in, and ultimately buy the book.
For a while, the death of physical book sales seemed imminent: the rise of Kindles and the ease of digital books had rendered old-fashioned paperbacks almost a thing of the past. Yet, physical books are standing strong today, and it seems that a huge part of it is thanks to the astronomical rise of social media.
Cover designer, Rachel Willey says to The Guardian: “With social media, people display their books in more places than their personal libraries at home. They’ve almost become an accessory in some cases.” Likewise, in the same article, influencer Femke Brull added: “If I don’t like the cover, I won’t photograph it and put it on my feed.”
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Bookstagramming, as we call it in our neck-of-the-woods, is giving new life to the purpose of physical books and bringing attention specifically to the aesthetics game of cover design. A quick troll through the hashtag #bookstagram and other similarly themed tags (#bookporn, #booklovers, #instareads, to name a few) on social media platforms yields an endless scroll of beautifully posed title cover snapshots and stacks of books used as centerpieces. It’s a visual assault on the senses, and it’s forcing many cover designers to really step up their game.
The fact that more people seem to buy a beautifully presented book doesn’t seem to hurt either. In theory, if a book looks good on the outside, why wouldn’t it be just as good on the inside, right?
After all, maybe looks really do matter. And while we’re on the subject of aesthetically pleasing covers, why not take a look through our catalogue? You may find something just perfect for your dining room table, and who knows? We think you’ll end up liking the book, too.
Erica Huang is former Melville House intern.