In E-Book Era, You Can’t Even Judge a Cover

March 31, 2010


自從幾個禮拜前從小璇那拿到了做為禮物的nook電子書後

對電子書方便隨身攜帶、能同時帶著上千本書趴趴走而卻只要負擔不到一本平裝小說重量的便利性、

以及不易造成眼睛疲勞、"閱讀感"相當接近實體書籍的使用經驗

讓nook馬上就成為我每天出門的隨身包中不可或缺的必備品



入手大概一週後我也針對使用經驗和選購前的市場調查寫了篇分享文

文中提及的缺點或許Barnes & Noble的研發人員還來不及改進、

但也相當慶幸並沒有進一步發現其他嚴重到足以影響閱讀經驗的重大缺點



不過一篇刊登於昨天紐約時報中的文章卻提醒了我一個電子書現階段和實體書籍相較仍然屈於劣勢的關鍵因素...



封面 !



雖然很不願意承認、但許多和我一樣會在通勤過程拿書出來看的朋友其實很在意旁人的眼光

或站或坐在上班尖峰時刻的擁擠地鐵車廂中、儘管和同車乘客之間的距離早就少於老美和陌生人之前的"舒適距離" 9英尺、

就連所謂的"親密距離" 1.5英尺的底限都完全守不住

還是要用很帥氣的姿勢從公事包中掏出書本或是報章雜誌、無視於周遭人們的大聲談笑或是耳機中傳出的巨大"二手樂聲"、

拿出泰山崩於前而色不改的氣魄自顧自地沉浸在文字的世界中



這時一旁無事可做的旁觀者就開始玩起扮演CSI或是心理分析師的角色

手上報紙是華爾街日報 (The Wall Street Journal) 的人八成是個在華爾街工作、月入斗金的投資顧問、

而拿著是紐約郵報 (New York Post) 的人就多半是個打開報紙必先翻閱體育版、對A-Rod的打擊率比對自己的存款數字還了解的運動迷

手上雜誌是紐約客 (The New Yorker) 的人不是白髮蒼蒼的長者就八成是和我一樣有著資訊焦慮症或是對文學作品的喜好偏向雜食類的紐約客、

而拿著Us Weekly 的人多半是被問到Brangelina和TomKat的掌上明珠究竟各是什麼詭異繞口名字時肯定會給你正確解答的影劇八卦達人

手上書籍是Thomas L. Friedman 的Hot, Flat, and Crowded 的人多半是把票投給Obama、熱衷於回收節能工作並積極參予各類型愛地球活動的環保人士、

而拿著Twilight系列小說的人則多半是對羅曼蒂克的愛情充滿嚮往 (或是追思?) 的無可救藥浪漫主義者



至於那種非常多此一舉地還在書本外套上書套、把書夾在另一本書中、或是直接把拿著書的手放進膝上的包包中連翻頁都要小心翼翼的人...



八成正在看那種光看書本封面就讓人熱血噴張的言情小說...

(不要懷疑, 我真的遇過這種人...而且還不少次)



而電子書的出現、讓所有想要企圖藉由"偷窺"封面來滿足自己期待擁有洞悉人心超能力的業餘心理分析師們、

在發現自己只能盯著一個個淺灰色塑膠背殼、或是根據個人喜好選擇的五花八門皮套發呆時、

眼神中滿是失望和無奈



不過可別因此就認為書本封面的設計自此將不再重要

以下這篇名為 In E-Book Era, You Can’t Even Judge a Cover 文章就提到了封面設計產業和設計師的新挑戰、新型態和新契機...





In E-Book Era, You Can’t Even Judge a Cover

By MOTOKO RICH

Published: March 31, 2010 / The New York Times




Bindu Wiles was on a Q train in Brooklyn this month when she spotted a woman reading a book whose cover had an arresting black silhouette of a girl’s head set against a bright orange background.



Ms. Wiles noticed that the woman looked about her age, 45, and was carrying a yoga mat, so she figured that they were like-minded and leaned in to catch the title: “Little Bee,” a novel by Chris Cleave. Ms. Wiles, a graduate student in nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, tapped a note into her iPhone and bought the book later that week.



Such encounters are becoming increasingly difficult. With a growing number of people turning to Kindles and other electronic readers, and with the Apple iPad arriving on Saturday, it is not always possible to see what others are reading or to project your own literary tastes.



You can’t tell a book by its cover if it doesn’t have one.



“There’s something about having a beautiful book that looks intellectually weighty and yummy,” said Ms. Wiles, who recalled that when she was rereading “Anna Karenina” recently, she liked that people could see the cover on the subway. “You feel kind of proud to be reading it.” With a Kindle or Nook, she said, “people would never know.”



Among other changes heralded by the e-book era, digital editions are bumping book covers off the subway, the coffee table and the beach. That is a loss for publishers and authors, who enjoy some free advertising for their books in printed form: if you notice the jackets on the books people are reading on a plane or in the park, you might decide to check out “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” or “The Help,” too.



“So often when you’re thinking of a book, you remember its cover,” said Jeffrey C. Alexander, professor of cultural sociology at Yale. “It’s a way of drawing people through the visual into reading.”



In the bookstore, where a majority of sales still take place, covers play a crucial role. “If you have already passed that hurdle of having a customer be attracted to the cover, and then they pick up the book,” said Patricia Bostelman, vice president for marketing at Barnes & Noble, “an enormous battle has been won.”



But it’s a victory that will be harder to eke out if no one can tell whether you’re reading “War and Peace” or “Diamonds and Desire.”



Perhaps no other element of the book-making process receives as much input from as many different people as the jacket. First, a creative director comes up with an idea. (How about this image of an apple?) Then the book’s editor, author and agent have a look. (Can we enlarge the font size on the author’s name? And wasn’t an apple used for that book about vampires? This book isn’t about vampires.) The publisher of the imprint gets involved. (Vampires sell. I like the apple.) The sales force makes comments. (Isn’t there an economics angle? How about an apple with an orange inside? That’s worked before.) Even booksellers have an opinion. (What I really love on a cover is a pair of high heels.)



A good jacket is unlikely to save a bad book, of course. But in a crowded market, a striking cover is one advantage all authors and publishers want. To get a sense of the odds, in a random analysis of 1,000 business books released last year, Codex Group, a publishing consultant, found that only 62 sold more than 5,000 copies.



Even in the digital era, publishers believe that books need graphic representations — if only for the online marketing campaign. Regardless of the format, “they all seem to need what we know of as a cover to identify them,” said Chip Kidd, associate art director at Alfred A. Knopf. Mr. Kidd has designed more than 1,000 jackets for authors including Cormac McCarthy and James Ellroy.



The music industry went through a similar transition when digital music devices arrived, but it has pushed back by finding fresh ways to display CD cover art on the Web sites where the songs are bought and the iPod screens where they are played. Publishers have already had some experience tailoring book jackets for the digital world, since so many people now buy even their print copies online.



“We often get requests to make the type bigger,” said Mario J. Pulice, creative director for the adult trade division of Little, Brown & Company. “Because when it’s on Amazon, you can’t read the author’s name.”



As publishers explore targeted advertising on Google and other search engines or social networking sites, they figure that a digital cover remains the best way to represent a book.



Some readers expect makers of electronic devices to add functions that allow users to broadcast what they’re reading. “People like to show off what they’re doing and what they like,” said Maud Newton, a popular book blogger. “So eventually there will be a way for people to do that with e-readers.”



For now, many publishers are counting on the Facebook effect. “Before, you might see three people reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ on the subway,” said Clare Ferraro, president of Viking and Plume, imprints of Penguin Group USA. “Now you’re going to log onto Facebook and see that three of your friends are reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ ”



Even avid online networkers rely on physical book covers in the real world. Heather E. Johnson, 32, who writes reviews on her blog, “Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books,” was recently at one of her son’s hockey games in Glen Burnie, a suburb of Baltimore, when she noticed a copy of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” lying open on the bleachers.



When a friend returned to claim it, Ms. Johnson asked for an opinion. “She said it was fabulous,” Ms. Johnson recalled. As soon as Ms. Johnson got home, she moved the title up her “to be read” list.



“I don’t know that I would start a conversation with someone about something they were reading on an e-reader,” Ms. Johnson added. “It might not be something that they want anyone to know that they’re reading.”



Some digital publishers suspect that one of the reasons romance and erotica titles are so popular in electronic editions is because e-readers are discreet.



Book jackets, though, still matter.



Holly Schmidt, president of Ravenous Romance, an e-book publisher of romance and erotica, said that in one case the publisher was offering an anthology of stories about older women and younger men. The first version featured a digital cover image of a winsome woman. It barely sold any copies. The publisher put a new cover up online — this time showing the bare, muscular torsos of three young men — and sales took off.



The new cover “took a book that was pretty much a loser,” Ms. Schmidt said, “and made it into a pretty strong seller.”









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4 意見

  1. 我也是很想要電子書,但是總是找不到合適的。不過這幾天看到 ipad 的介紹,真的很棒~除了不支援 flash 很令人難過,畢竟自己的職業就是跟 flash 有關。不知道
    你會不會去買 ipad ?如果買了一定要跟我們分享喔^^

    版主回覆:(03/31/2010 11:03:12 PM)


    不過我想拿iPad當做電子書使用可能不是太合適
    優點當然是除了閱讀電子書籍外iPad有更多娛樂功能讓使用者更好打發通勤時間
    能直接上網瀏覽網頁(不過竟然還是不支援Flash真的很讓人匪夷所思)並收發email的設計更是相當實用
    不過不能同時執行多個程式的設定實在讓人很難不把它只當作是放大版的iPod來看待...

    另外做為電子書使用的話他那具背光的螢幕會是個致命缺點
    採用電子墨水技術的電子書目前看來還是比較適合長時間閱讀

    對了...聽說iPad的電子書籍還會比amazon和Barnes & Noble版本的還要更貴
    這恐怕也會勸退不少打算拿iPad做為電子書使用的潛在顧客群

    不過這當然並不代表我就不會考慮iPad啦...哈哈
    (兩年多前我也想說我不會買iPhone...至少不會在3G版本上市前入手...Orz)
    只是我不會用電子書功能來作為主要購買動機就是了

    ReplyDelete
  2. daphne4011310:07 PM

    哈哈
    大大對Twilight讀者的評語好好笑> <
    我本人並不是很熱中那種小說,我倒比較喜歡天使與魔鬼那類的,有宗教
    又有暗殺或是其實某某宗教藏有不為人知的秘密("第三秘密"就是這種小
    說)等等那些很驚悚的事情XD
    不過我喜歡的作者目前只有2本被翻譯成中文= =
    沒有時間抱本原文的來看....

    校車上的人都直接盯著你手上拿的東西看XD
    上次某位學妹就在校車上用起筆電來,讓不少走過去的人一直盯著她看
    說不定幾天後他手上就拿著台I-PAD也說不定
    (相信我,那學妹家一定爆有錢的XD她什麼都有)

    但是用電子書就比較不用在意別人對你看的書的眼光了阿
    雖然說我也不會看什麼奇怪的書啦= =
    但是一直被盯著看就會怪(尤其在班上)
    看的正開心時,就有人走過來翻一下你的封面= =
    但我就從來沒看過有人去問那些拿電子字典看小說的人在看什麼.....

    版主回覆:(04/02/2010 02:06:20 PM)


    我遲遲無法從幾年前看Twilight電影的驚嚇中復元
    最近女友又吵著要我把New Moon放進我的NETFLIX清單中...Orz

    你喜歡的那類型"陰謀論"或"神秘論"小說
    如果真要看原文的小說也真的頗吃力...太多詭異少見的用詞了
    幾年前抱著必死決心K完達文西密碼的原文版後遲遲沒有勇氣和時間拿起另外一本來挑戰
    不過或許在你到時結束學測、推甄或是聯考(老實說我也搞不清楚現在的制度了)後等著大學開學時的那段時間
    是相當不錯的課外讀物

    昨天在夜間的脫口秀中看到主持人試用要在今天才會正式上架的iPad
    是真的一如其他蘋果產品一樣有許多讓人瞠目結舌的酷炫設計
    不過也實在有不少讓人匪夷所思"為什麼會連這麼基本功能都沒有"之類的疑問
    要在最近就入手的人恐怕真的是對於新科技產品有著強迫症或是所謂的MacHead吧
    但我想光是這些人就能讓iPad的首賣出現驚人銷售數字

    電子書的好處的確是比較不會被他人發現自己看書的內容
    不過這其實有時反而成了缺點...

    有時候當你一眼看見身邊的人所看的書本封面、知道該書的大概內容後很快就會對其失去興趣
    不過當你發現看不出來那人在看的是啥書籍時、反而會死命盯著電子墨水螢幕想要搞清楚這人究竟葫蘆裡賣啥膏藥...

    我就常常在地鐵上發現自己正被這樣"關愛的眼神"注視中...

    ReplyDelete
  3. 這幾天看了許多 ipad 的新聞,覺得 ipad 真的很棒,但是不支援 flash 及必須外接其他裝置才能使用 sd 卡及 usb 真的很不方便,期待 ipad 能有進一步的更新。

    版主回覆:(04/03/2010 09:11:02 PM)


    我在看到Jimmy Fallon於上市前一晚在節目中的試用後也對iPad有不錯的印象
    很多或許在實際功能上意義不大、但是卻在使用過程中會提高不少"爽度"的貼心細節設計果然還是蘋果難以被取代的強項

    對於電子書的功能我也對其稍有改觀
    不過倒不是因為iPad可以更進一步地滿足我對於電子書籍的需求...我還是覺得就電子書的功能而言我並不需要iPad
    而是對於蘋果打算用其來取代傳統教科書的想法相當贊同且深信其發展潛力極大

    節目中秀了一下iPad版本的化學課本
    除了原本枯燥乏味也缺乏變化的元素表突然變成互動性極高外
    學生甚至可以在點開某元素介紹後看到該元素以立體的狀態出現在眼前
    可以像使用iPhone般用手指任意去轉動該立體模型、甚至放大縮小來進一步了解其結構
    這對我來說是把所謂的互動式數位教材提升到另一個層級
    不用像過去一樣還得將光碟片放到電腦中去觀看、然後透過滑鼠來操作
    iPad除了提供更高的機動性外、還能用手指和數位資訊互動
    能直接用觸控方式畫重點或是叫出內建字典查詢生字當然也比使用電子墨水的電子書產品來的更適合學生族群使用
    也難怪某大學已經宣佈要讓全校學生每人都有一部iPad來試圖提升教學品質

    不過對我這種不是學生的族群而言
    我想我應該會和你一樣觀望iPad的下一步更新...無法支援Flash對我來說實在太不合理了
    再決定是否有入手的必要性

    ReplyDelete
  4. 唯有穿鞋的人,才知道鞋的哪一處擠腳

    ReplyDelete

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