Wednesday 23 April 2014 at 17:14.

Future of the cover.

What are eBooks?
eBooks are basically almost the same as printed books, the only difference is the medium. For a traditional printed book the medium is paper. On the other hand, is an eBook a digital representation of the printed material (printed book). The medium can vary from a laptop/computer to digital eReader, PDA, smart phone, or even through a desktop printer on traditional paper. The content is usually available in PDF or HTML format, but it could also be plain texts or XML formats, which makes the content much more multidimensional and flexible than the traditional printed book. These features enable eBooks to be fully indexed.[1] This means that the content of the book can be systematic arranged. These entries are designed to enable users to locate information in a document, for example headings and subheadings or curtain keywords.[2]
The ocean flows of online information are all streaming together, and the access tools are becoming absolutely critical. If you don’t index it, it doesn’t exist. It’s out there but you can’t find it, so it might as well not be there.
Barbara Quint, Editor, Search Magazine. 1994[3]

But readers can also find these books through search engines such as Google, the library catalogue or publishers platform. This means that the primary difference between printed books and eBooks is that eBooks are exposed and visible to a larger audience. In general people have less availability to the traditional paper subscription model. Printed books can mostly be read by physically going to a library/store while through the internet, basically the whole world can have access to the content at any time of the day. [4]

Of course, there are nowadays also other possibilities of obtaining printed books online. For example, in some cases books are scanned and made ​​available by releasing them online. Google Books is an example of this. Even though the books are officially printed, they are made digitally by Google books or an external group and indexed to be used in the digital field.

Electronic books can do certain things that printed books cannot, and there in lies their value. Because of this, electronic books are changing the definition and expectations of books.[5]

Printed Books
Printed books have a material quality that electronic books have not. For many of us, the intimacy of cradling a book close to our chest, hanging our head over it and shutting out the real world is a sacred ritual. The smell and feel of paper can never be replicated by a cold hard (digital) screen. Browsing a bookstore or library and flicking through books is a social, embodied experience. Clicking on a screen is not. Even dough we might think that way sometimes with social media. Amazon.com has a complex algorithm to suggest books you may like based on previous purchases. But what if you would rather have a librarian or bookseller make suggestions based on their expertise? Or if you would like to have a conversation? Or walk out holding the book? The tactile differences between page and screen will always be an issue for those of us raised on ink and paper.[6]
But watch how a toddler tapping stubbornly at a magazine becomes annoyed that the image isn’t changing. That child is unlikely to feel the same nostalgia for print as her parents, because her understanding of “book” will be significantly different then theirs.

The technology we use to present and consume information has changed. The toddler, who understands that tapping a glassy surface should make an image change, demonstrates that technology is developing at an unprecedented rate.[7]


Because of this extremely fast developing technology the cover of the book is under attack. Critics believe that the book cover might be dead because of the way we touch digital books is different than the way we touch physical books. But if we really acknowledge that, useful conclusions can be made.[8] If a book’s cover is the first thing a potential reader sees, it can make a lasting impression. Our brains are wired to process images faster then words. A great cover can help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for him. He thinks twice before accepting or buying a book with a bad or cheap looking cover. If the cover seems to be nothing more than a catalogue photograph with block letters, people bypass it. If the author did not care enough to dedicate time to his cover, we will wonder how much time they put into the book itself.[9] But how do we approach this in the e-publishing landscape? When covers are not as important anymore. Can we reinvent the digital book cover? We jump in and out of digital texts with little to no procession. In contrast, every time you set down a physical book, the cover is staring right at you. And every time you pick it back up, you have to go ‘through’ the cover to get to the text. Do that five times and you will never forget the title or author. And as certain books become applications, their covers become icons. When you see the book online, it’s always accompanied by lots of text. You read the text on the screen, the cover is the icon. The classic notion of a cover made digital is more like a books favicon rather than a gateway into the text. The cover of a printed book is a protector of the signatures and the binding. It allows the books to fly in and out of the stacks a thousand times, and still be usable. In the digital world, our books are protected by ubiquity.Jump into the eBook and any of these chapter-opening images could be a cover. On the most base level, within the constraints of our current eBook systems, distributed the cover throughout his entire book. The reality is, entire books need to be treated as covers to treat an entire book as a cover, means to fold the typographic and design love usually reserved for covers onto everything. The lack of platforms is what makes many iPad magazine apps helpless. They end up in no better position than a printed magazine. There are no routes by which you can directly get their content. You cannot point in. You are forced to go through the ‘front door’ to get anywhere. And it’s a door usually weighing several hundred megabytes and difficult to unlock.[10]

Craig Mod disagrees with how the cover no longer serves a function to sell. Book recommendations do weigh heavenly in the book selection, however, when you look at a book at Amazon or wherever, one of the first impressions is still with the cover. Does it look professional? Does it have a personality that conveys what I want to read? The book cover is not just some technical piece of information. There is an art to the cover that leaves us with an emotional response, whether it is a good emotion or a bad emotion.[11]

There is a clear connection between great covers and great sales.
In addition to promising what a book will deliver, the cover image also promises that the author is a professional and that the book will honour the readers time.[12]
The finest books boast strong, well-written stories. But to rise to the top, to gain traction with readers, even the best book needs a dynamic cover.[13]
“I’m blown away by the great covers on books by indie authors,” says Smashwords founder Mark Coker. “The quality of cover design today is head and shoulders above what it was just a few years ago.”[14]

It is disappointing that we should answer the question what the future of the book will be electronic/digital or manual? Does it really have to be an either / or mentality?[15] In my knowledge the two should live next to each other with both different purposes and functions, both working together, complimenting each other.

[1] Wouter van der Velde, Olaf Ernst, (2009) “The future of eBooks? Will print disappear? An end-user perspective”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 27 Iss: 4, pp. 570 – 583
[2] The American Society for Indexing, Inc. (ASI), What is Indexing?,
[3] Leverage Technologies, Inc. Professionally Created Indexes for Publications Enhance Usability
[4] Wouter van der Velde, Olaf Ernst, (2009) “The future of eBooks? Will print disappear? An end-user perspective”, Library Hi Tech, Vol. 27 Iss: 4, pp. 570 – 583
[5] What is a book in the digital age? Zoe Sadokierski, 11 November 2013.
[6] What is a book in the digital age? Zoe Sadokierski, 11 November 2013.
[7] Idem.
[8] Hack the Cover, Craig Mod, May 2012
[9] Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers, May 29, 2013
[10] Hack the Cover, Craig Mod, May 2012
[11] Hack the Cover, Craig Mod, May 2012
[12] Yes, We Really Do Judge Books by Their Covers, May 29, 2013
[13] Idem
[14] Idem
[15] What is a book in the digital age? David Hopkins, March 3, 2014

After effects experiment whereby the program distorts the original image in a sequence.
Could possibly be the cover of the book.

One of the outcomes transformed into Bitmap to enhance the digital feeling.

What happends with gradients on eReaders.
You can play with the transition of different pages when the ink fills the screen.

Video – Gradient Test on eReader

Other experiment with different covers for the book: ‘The Little Prince’. Trying out very thin lines and thin typography to see what is possible on the eReader.



UnderCover youtube

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