By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, September 27, 2016
I’ve always loved dust jacket art on science fiction hardbacks. I also love cover art on science fiction paperbacks, and cover art on science fiction magazines. But what the hell is happening with covers for ebooks? I can understand when self-published authors create their own covers and they look awful. But why are we seeing covers like this:
These new ebook editions have no copyright page or publisher listed inside. At Amazon, under publisher, they give: Robert A. Heinlein. As cheapo ebook covers these aren’t terrible – but they aren’t appealing either. I guess they decided that no art is better than bad art, and I’m thankful for that.
I assume publishers spent money on cover art when the covers often sold books. And I guess, since ebooks aren’t displayed in bookstores, publishers feel little need to sell books by their covers anymore.
If you look at the cover art from 2016 – here’s a selection at the old SF Signal site, and look at a selection of cover art from the 1960s and 1970s at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations, you’ll notice, at least in my mind, that cover art is less creative.
For fun, I thought I’d give a brief history of these two covers. Tunnel in the Sky has never had any great covers, but some of them were not bad. The Door into Summer has one great SF cover, and a couple interesting ones. Clicking on the covers should bring up larger images.
First off, their original hardback covers from the 1950s:
Now their early paperback covers:
A couple foreign editions:
Later 20th century paperback editions:
Some 21st century versions:
And for some extra fun, here’s what The Door Into Summer looked like when it appeared in F&SF.
These aren’t masterpieces of cover art, but they are a lot more appealing than the current covers. Can you understand why I feel cheated?
I still miss the cover art from 12” LP covers. The art on CD cases were never the same. Is migrating to digital media destroying the wonderful world of cover illustrations?