Author Photos on #BookCovers

I love books. Love bookstores. Love book marketing. Love walking the aisles, looking for trends, studying decisions made in book design.

Like the decision to change a book’s cover when the book is made into a movie.

JoJoCoverThose are fun. Makes me wonder if there should be two lines at the register: one for the book lover who bought the original book design; another for the movie lover who bought the cover with the actors on it. Want to see more like this? Check out Isaac Fitzgerald’s July 16, 2014 Buzzfeed Books article “14 Book Covers Before and After They Were Made Into Movies” for cool side-by-side comparisons.

I also find it interesting when there’s no jacket copy at all. Like Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup. I suppose, technically, there is jacket copy. A four-word question that gets to the heart of the matter. If you like ghost stories, buy this book.



And then there’s this: Sylvia Day’s One with You. A novel by an author whose brand is so huge, it’s just her picture on the back of the book. My first response to a book with no jacket copy is always one of (slight) disappointment. When I pull a book from the shelf, I expect to flip it over and read what it’s about, not see who wrote it. Now I have to hunt for the information.


But on second thought, it’s a probably a good idea to put a certain faces on the product. (Gasp! Did I just call a book a product?! Shame on me! But yes, I did.) Promoting the artist is how the music industry promotes music. Album covers and book covers require similar marketing and design practices. It’s wise to study both industries. And avid readers know what their favorite authors look like. Reading a great book makes you feel something about its author. Makes you feel connected to them. Seeing them in a bookstore provokes a response that’s like saying, “Oh, hey! There she is. Hello, favorite author. Let me buy your book.”

Speaking of hello . . . Hello, David Baldacci! You’re looking handsome on the back of The Last Mile.


While gazing upon his handsomeness, I noticed a second level of marketing decisions at play in book cover design. Sylvia Day and David Baldacci’s poster photos were on hardback editions. I assume this is because hardbacks are targeted to readers who love and follow these authors and will buy early to consume the story, and buy in hardback to collect the work of the author they love. Smart.

Here’s a peek of David Baldacci’s The Guilty in paperback. Lower price than the hardcover, with more information on the jacket, perhaps for the reader who may not “know” him and love him the way a loyal reader would. Photo, story tease, quotes.


Here they are sitting next to each other. Hardback on the left, paperback on the right.


The audiobook version appears to be direct lift of the front cover, with black borders added to conform to the square shape. So, the front cover is the same on all formats. Back cover changes for the hard and paperback.


And then there’s Clive Cussler’s The Pharaoh’s Secret. You can see Clive’s photo from across the room, but when you pick up the book, you’ll notice it’s written by Clive Cussler AND Graham Brown. Poor Graham. Where’s his picture? I mean, my gosh. Have you seen a picture of Graham Brown? Whew! So super cute. If they wrote the book together, why not put both of them on the back cover? If not a side-by-side of separate photos; if not a huge photo of Clive and a smaller photo of Graham near the bar code; then maybe a photo of them sitting together? Laughing. Being chummy. After all, they wrote a book together. Surely, they can sit for a picture.


But on second thought, with yet another nod toward smart decisions in book marketing, I’m thinking Graham’s quite okay with Clive’s image splashed across the back cover (notice the font size of each author’s name on the front cover – one is clearly the headlining author). Because hey, the smartest marketer in this set up might be Graham for landing this business venture. Graham’s first novel released in 2010. Clive Cussler’s been writing and building an audience since 1967. I suspect Graham’s quite happy reaching some of Clive’s readership – which in turn, should build his own.

What do you think? When you browse for books – do you notice these things? Or am I just a whack job with a lot of time on her hands . . .