ReadingRoom

Cover story: The curious case of a shared database

James Morrison exposes the somewhat rather narrow range of book cover design

Despite the rise of ebooks, the interest in cover design and the look of physical books is probably stronger than ever. The rate of books being published grows ever higher, and they all need covers, even if it's just a thumbnail for a Kindle edition on Amazon.

Cover designers the world over have access, via online art databases and stock libraries, to a vast array of images that can be used to decorate and, with any luck, sell books. Unfortunately, all those designers tend to have access to the same databases and libraries, which means you sometimes end up with books which feature photographs that look strangely familiar…

Nudes on road covers: When you just want to decorously lie nude on the gravel at night, and you keep getting slapped onto book covers.

Gothy woman covers: When you want to lurk, pale and interesting, against a variety of backgrounds, but people keep slapping you onto book covers.

Man by fence covers: When you just want to lurk moodily by a fence in the mist, but people keep slapping you on book covers.

Nudes in bed covers: When you just want to lie sultrily in bed reading with a strategically placed sheet, but people keep slapping you on book covers.

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