I was sitting in a waiting room this week and started noticing the readers in the room. Two had books proclaiming the title and author’s name. Then there was me, with my Kindle, my book unknown to the room. The drive for e-books frightens publishers on a new level. How can traditional publishing adapt or compete with the growing market? Are they even needed anymore? In the author world, the possibilities are spoken about with hope and excitement. The industry is changing every day and they are along for the ride.
But I wonder if there is an angle authors haven’t thought
about, at least I hadn’t. Isn’t the front cover part of marketing a book? You’re
sitting on an airplane and someone notices. It’s a conversation starter. Or it
even joins two people together when one has read the book and loved it. With
book’s new format, there is nothing to proclaim to the world what is being
read. I once had someone say to me they like their Kindle for this reason. They
didn’t want to be disturbed while they were reading. I thought at the time they
were being more anti-social than even I can be. But I am starting to wonder
about it from an author’s perspective. It eliminates an avenue of marketing.
When readers are asked how they select books, a lot will say they judge them by
the cover art. I think this is why we earned the popular phrase. Some of the
first writer’s conferences I went to stressed the importance of the publisher
designing the cover and picking the book’s title. They devoted people to this.
I think this is why I am slightly bothered by the obscurity of e-book reading. It
means I have to work even harder to get the book noticed. People won’t happen
on it by chance, but more than likely have to be looking for it.
I guess some authors may like this. How many people read
Fifty Shades of Grey in e-book form because they avoided outside judgment? When
did reading become secretive? I suppose someone could still ask me what I’m
reading. But, for me, that would take more dedication to starting a
conversation. For instance, in this waiting room, I notice a gentleman reading
a book I love. I got all excited about it. I wanted to discuss it with him.
I would be curious to know how many books are chosen as a
result of seeing the book in multiple places. I always used to think a way to
know an author has “made it” is by checking the grocery store’s bookshelf. What
does it mean for books if the cover becomes less important? On the other hand,
maybe it’s not so dire. Maybe it’s like everything else in the publishing
world: changing and open to endless possibilities.