Book covers are perhaps the most elusive thing to a writer, writers write, and consequently, most writers buy books based on merit as opposed to packaging and cover design. I have found that over time, my taste and my choice in literature, has become one where I never judge a book by its cover. Of course I do remember a time, where I walked through Waterstones, and brought a book simply based on its cover, but whenever I done such a thing, I was never really pleased with my purchase. I have in my room stacks of books, these range from public domain documents (Philosophy and Old Literature), to the more modern junk paperbacks that seem to be permeating the modern literary world. The books that I most enjoy, seem to me, to all have bad cover. The cover is either really torn, its peeling, or there is some other deformity to its design. Though in truth, when buying books, I do not always judge them by the content. If I buy a book that I will consider reading whilst commuting, then the cover is very important, this is to some degree present in all of us. And this act of stupidity stems from “What will they think of me”. In other words when you’re reading a book, what will others on the train think of you, as if that matters at all, it is simply but another game, another illusion peddled by our “logical” minds so that we can integrate into “society”. For surely we should be the ones that define society, as opposed to having this ideal define us. But I digress, and to go back to the topic of how covers influence people’s book buying habits, one need not look further than this very year, the year 2012.
The success of 50 shades of grey, whom some have dubbed as mummy porn, has in fact boosted sales of ebooks, and ereaders. This of course is because the ereader and the ebook provide one with enough privacy to shield their guilty pleasure. But seeing things such as this occur repeatedly throughout London in the past few years has bore in me a new and striking respect for that fat man, sitting in the middle of train, his gut hanging, while he drools over the latest issue of nutz magazine. Why you may ask? Because he is not acting in accordance with the expectations and hypocritical ideologies of modern societies, goddam it the man wants to enjoy some raunchy pictures of females straddling all sorts of car paraphernalia. And this brings me to why I wrote this post, for you see, my room is filled with several piles of books, there is a pile on top of the shelves, there is a pile under the computer, there is a pile by the door, and there is a pile by the bed. And whilst anyalysing these piles, I realized that some of the book covers were as pain inducing as piles. Whilst some of these books had terrible covers, I must admit, I love most of them. And this is something coming from someone who loves graphics novels, and gaming cover art.
This is the pile by the computer, most of these are old books that I have read. In there are some imports of Khalil Gibran’s poetry in original arabic. Sorry for not turning the spines towards the camera, but that would have required additional effort. My latest addition to this pile has been Gurdjief’s book, a beast of a book I hope to decipher soon. This pile mostly consists of oldies and philosophy books. People have told me to sell the ones I have read, but I find it difficult parting with them, instead the ones I am finished with go in a box, that is hoarded by me till I die. I have a box for novels, for graphics novels and for textbooks. Somewhere amongst that mess is my old Sega Genesis, and other outdated nerdy hardware.
All this brings me to my book The Shining Serpent. This is my first book, its first cover was a simplistic one, which can be viewed and purchased on the website www.theshiningserpent.com After much adoration from a few people regarding its content, I have taken it upon myself, to heed their other more worldly advice. Namely, that of the cover. Some people have read it, and compared it with the likes of Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, and whilst my book does have that quintessential magic to it, it is unique in its own way. I have been at work on the cover for the past couple of days, mainly due to my ICCL event (ICCL Iraqi Cultural Centre London where I will be doing a reading on the 10th November).
I have also taken the liberty to change the cover laminate type, from glossy to matte finish. I have done this mainly because people want “that book feeling” or so I have been told. I will keep you updated on how things go.