You want books with that burger? • 4 November 2006 • The SnowBlog
You want books with that burger?
Interesting, slightly breathless account of how the U.S. publishing market is supposedly waking up to the potential of book sales through non-book-outlets here. The breakthrough appears to have been re-designing the book to complement its new environment. I'm not saying it wouldn't have some effect, but I found the whole thing a rather strange way to come at the problem. For me, personally, the story was something of a milestone because the instinctive, dismissive grunt I made when I read it came very close to a 'harrumph'. Does that mean I'm middle-aged now? Or do I only need to worry if I find myself adding 'stuff and nonsense' in a pugnacious little growl? The reason for the harrumphing was that Snowbooks has been looking at the U.S. book market and wondering why so many cover designs are - and I don't want to offend anyone here - but from a purely design or aesthetics point of view, what you might call 'ugly'. "That's the U.S. market," we've been told. It's even been suggested to us that if we tried to release U.S. editions of our books that were too pretty they might put American customers off. Fortunately, a big part of the idea behind Snowbooks involved Em and I practicing the phrase 'Thanks so much for the advice, but if you don't mind I think we'll try it our way'. Even so, it's a surprise to read how successful HarperCollins and Penguin have been through tweaking their designs specifically for the cheese counter or the paint section. Setting aside the question of whether this is a news story, or merely two press releases bolted together, I think it's a good omen for us. If more time spent on cover design is paying off in the poultry aisle then there's every reason to think it will work in an even more important retail environment for books: the U.S. book store. Who knows, maybe Penguin and HarperCollins will use the lessons learned to boost their sales in the non-food, non-clothing and non-hardware sectors.