Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Book By Any Cover?

Happy Passover! And almost Happy Easter!

I am taking this day to talk about something related to my post last month: art. This month it's about covers, and specifically the covers of two of my books--Celebrate Passover and Celebrate Easter. First of all let me just say this is not some sneaky way of getting you to buy my books. Since Passover has already begun and Easter is just days away, it's too late for this year. If I were a truly savvy marketer I would have written this post a month ago. But I'm not that savvy. Not even slightly. This came about because I took out the books to bring them to the family seder (o.k., just one of the books, guess which one?) and remembered that they changed the covers before they put them in paperback. Can you guess why?

Above is the cover of the hardcover edition of my Passover book.

Below is the cover of the paperback edition, out about a year later:

Why the change?

Here's a hint, by way of my book about Easter. Hardcover:

And the paperback:

First of all, although National Geographic was amazingly great to work with on these books, and I had a lot of input on the photographs inside (Lori Epstein, the photo editor, is a genius, so she didn't need much of my input at all!), they changed the covers without telling me.

That's fine, really it is, because they know what they're doing.

The hardcovers were mainly marketed to grown-ups--teachers, librarians, parents. And the softcovers to kids. So the covers reflect that marketing. This just brings home once again that the job of writers and publishers of children's books is different from the job of those who make books for grown-ups. We are aiming at more than one audience at a time. In this case the wizards at National Geographic decided to kind of split the market with the different editions.

Which makes me wonder, what's next? How will the new technology affect the way publishers design the different editions of our books? Will e-books look different graphically than paper books? What about books for Ipads and Iphones vs books for Kindles and Shmindles? I think this is an especially interesting question for nonfiction books and especially for us--the writers, publishers and gatekeepers of nonfiction for children.

I think this is one of those cases when technology will change the way books are written. We've known for a while that once electronic books are the norm we will no longer need picture books with a certain number of pages. But what about the look of these books, from the covers on in? What do you think?

By the way, I am part of a panel at ALA this summer called the Nonfiction Book Blast. Other I.N.K.ers are on it, too. I wrote a post yesterday for that panel's blog that might interest you. You can go here to see it.


Anonymous said...

So true about the different market for the covers! What appeals to adults isn't the same as what appeals to kids.

Barbara Kerley said...

Hi Deb -- Great post! It also occurs to me that the cover changes might have been made to try and reach a more general market. Even folks like me who do not celebrate Passover will have seen matzah in the grocery store (ie. the new cover ties to my experience) and folks like me who do not celebrate Easter in any religious sense still love the Easter Bunny.

BethMooreSchool said...

These books are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

Susan Kuklin said...

Wonderful post, Deborah, and wonderful covers – with four exceptions: you name should be MUCH bigger and in BOLD. I often wonder and sometimes argue about cover changes from hardback to paper. Your explanation makes perfect sense. As for the future of covers, let's hope some things don't change. Yours look fabulous on this screen. Happy holiday!

I Spy Animals said...

Hi Deborah! Just wondering if you were able to publish directly with National Geographic, or was your book placed with them by an agent? Thank you for your post...it was enlightening!