ebook covers: amazon editors’ picks hits and misses

Dimly lit is the new puce.

This is one of my all time favorite books from fourth grade – even I don’t recognize it.

Would you be surprised to learn this book isn’t about ghosts and summer camp? Actually it’s about a boy and his dogs?

This cover is a major miss. Black is the new black, but murky twilight details just don’t work on a thumbnail. And the cover image does not fit the story anyway.

Where the Red Fern Grows
Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows is a great story and one of the Amazon editors’ picks for kids’ summer reading 2012.

Carl Hiaasen

It’s no surprise that not just Chomp, but Splash, Scat, and of course Hoot are all featured in the top 40. Carl writes great stories for kids, but from a marketing perspective, the bold colors and simple images on the covers really stand out from a muddle crowd. This is a major hit.

This is the most frustrating print-to-ebook cover miss yet. A simple cover. A single image. A clean color scheme.

So why o why not blow up that cover image so I can see it as a thumbnail??

Three guesses as to what that thing that looks like a cartoon dog head is.

Wendelin van Draanen

Surprised that it’s a chicken? I was. I’m also not totally sure what that has to do with a ‘romantic comedy of errors’.

Out of My Mind
Sharon M. Draper

There are some bones to pick with this cover – you can’t really read the title, and the author name is likewise a little tricky to read. But the image caught my eye even in the thumbnail, and then when I read the description and learned it was not a teeny bopper romance, it made me want to pick up the book.

“Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk.”

It would be great to see some stats on kids reading ebooks. Research project!


ebook covers: not reimagined

In Teen Sci-Fi & Fantasy, no new eBook cover required. In contrast to the popular books in YA Action & Adventure, I couldn’t find one book perusing the popular and best-seller lists that had a meaningfully different cover from the print version(s). (Note: I know last week I said I was going to look at Dystopian fiction – I swear I saw it on the list last week but this week it’s not there. Amazon is always monkeying with things.)There were two different flavors of this cover homogeneity, however:

  1. Print covers that were originally designed to look good as eBook covers
  2. Print covers that don’t look good as eBook covers, but seem to be selling well anyway (perhaps on the back of the famous author name attached)

Mark of Athena

This one caught my eye right away – great way to build anticipation! I am not a Rick Riordan fan, but I found myself intrigued and wondering – what is the cover going to look like? This is far more interesting than a blank Amazon space indicating “No cover image available”. That’s the same blank space for some old used book someone’s trying to sell who can’t be bothered taking a picture of the book – probably because it looks like crap. No, this is great marketing and I am definitely going to be borrowing this.

The Serpent’s Shadow

In sharp contrast, this eBook cover, also for Rick Riordan, sucks. Can’t read it, can’t tell what’s going on in the image. This is the same cover design as the print version, and it might look good on a bookstore shelf, but on Amazon it just looks like a mess.

A Wrinkle in Time

It pains me to say this, as Madeleine L’Engle is probably the reason why I write stories at all. Sure there are others – Lewis, Kipling, Adams, Tolkein, to name a few – but L’Engle is a hero to me. And this print cover does not work as an eBook cover. The sumptuous, detailed illustrations do not pop electronically. It looks dull.

A Wrinkle in Time
50th Anniversary Edition

Why, oh why, are they not using this bold graphic cover instead? Duh.


I don’t know anything about the Matched trilogy, but this cool cover caught my eye. The colors are bright, the image is simple and uncluttered, there is tension with that girl in the bubble, and the description of the book didn’t feel like a mismatch when I read it: Matched is about a teen girl living a beautiful live, but who needs to break free. I can’t read whatever the extra text on the cover is, so that is a problem. If it’s important, blow it up (or put it in the book description), if it’s not, take it off. The book doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea, but the cover is working.

The Hunger Games

And, yes, black is the new black. This cover only needed very minor tweaks – mostly to increase the contrast and make the gold brighter – from the original print cover. It’s like they had eBooks in mind. Simple graphics, one bold color, and the black background just jumps off that white Amazon background. I wonder if Suzanne is bathing in money at this point.