Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Enhancing the E-Book Experience: Long Way to Go

Publishers are actually doing a little better job these days when it comes to the "covers" they attach to their e-books, but seeing a cheesy, cheap looking cover on an e-book is still one of my biggest turnoffs.  

So let's take it one step further, publishers because, let's face it, reading an e-book is not nearly the experience that reading a physical book is.  There's just too much about physical books that cannot be replicated.  But...there are a couple of things you can do easily and cheaply to bring the two experiences a little bit closer to being the same:

  • Emphasize the cover art by taking as much care with it as you do with your physical book covers - front AND back.  Have the cover appear at logical break points in the e-book presentation, be it at the beginning of chapters or, at least, before already-designated section breaks.  Those books that are written to be presented in multiple parts now generally use nothing to emphasize the section breaks other than two or three blank pages.
  • Take advantage of chapter breaks, especially in books that don't have more than a dozen or so chapters.  Show the cover between chapters or, at the very least, have a separate page between chapters that show the chapter number - and maybe put the cover there every three chapters, or so.
"When reading a book in print, we interact with the cover every time we open and close the book – we see it all the time, it reinforces our perception of the book in our minds," Pelican book designer Matt Young told Creative Review. "Whereas when reading an ebook, the cover often has a much smaller role to play – reduced to a thumbnail, and sometimes never seen again once the book has been purchased. With Pelican, the cover is echoed throughout the entire book: each chapter begins with a full-page/full-screen chapter opener, acting as an important visual signpost and echoing the cover, reinforcing the brand and the series style."
This is a great marketing tool that should create some brand consciousness for e-books, Pelican.  And here's hoping that other publishers take your ideas and run with them.  


  1. I'm anxious to try one of their books. My first reaction was that the repetitive nature would get annoying. Especially if the only reason they are placing it in there is because the Marketing Dept. told them to, to help reinforce the brand.

    But the more I think about it (and after reading your post), it might actually work to serve the book as a whole. I know I'm excited that Pelican is at it again! can't wait to see what all they have to offer in the coming year.

    1. I'm thinking it wouldn't be all that repetitive, Trav, because it would be little more than the number of times you see the cover of a real book. Sometimes now I forget that I'm reading a book on my e-reader...its so much more like reading on the web that it could be anything but a book. Let me know if you find one of the Pelican books done this way and what you think of it. I'd love to hear...

  2. Wouldn't it be cool if the cover of the book you are reading became the screen saver when you put your ereader to sleep? It'd be like you "closed" your book. Barring that, Pelican has a good idea with what they are doing.

    1. Stefanie, that's brilliant. Probably some kind of huge software problem stopping it from happening, but a really cool idea. Wouldn't work on my Kindle because I have the one "with ads" and I'm sure Amazon would never give that up for any reason...but who knows? Might work on other readers.