Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beneath the Covers

A pal of mine, Frank, trolls the more obscure byways of the Interweb, keeping Thriller Guy (TG) appraised of matters concerning graphic novels, horror books, science fiction and comics. This week he takes the Guest Seat with interesting information concerning a topic that is dear to every author's heart: the cover that will appear on their soon-to-be published book. While some of the Big Guys get cover approval rights written into their contracts, it has been TG's experience that agents don't like to fight about this clause (publishers don't want it in a contract) preferring to expend their powers on money matters. Look for another blog on this topic in the future as I'm sure that many authors have interesting stories, but for the moment, here's Frank:

Allen, I wonder if I could comment a bit on book covers, in particular the cover for the upcoming Stephen King novel, UNDER THE DOME. (The picture to the above and right is the cover for the Australian edition.)

What’s that you ask? King has a new book coming out? (See how distracted you’ve become these days?) Yes, it’s due out November 10. Of course, a new Stephen King book is always big news. But that’s not the biggest news. The biggest news is about the cover FOR the book!

It seems that the publisher, Scribner, has invested in a CGI (computer generated imagery) enhanced image for the DOME cover that is due to be released “in stages” in a four part campaign. The dates of each “element” of the special book cover are as follows: September 21, September 25, September 28, with the full reveal of the special cover on October 5, “when the world will see that everything is UNDER THE DOME.”

The official roll-out of the “reveal campaign” wasn’t due until September 21, but a popular (and unofficial) King web page “leaked” the story last week. Here's the story and where to look for constant weekly updates about the book (and all King news).

In addition to that….

Stephen King himself is planning a signing/reading tour of which details can be found here on his official bulletin board.

There are no doubt, hundreds of people already planning four to six hour drives to have the chance to attend some of these functions.

But wait, there’s more !

Look for an excerpt from the book in an upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly (probably in October).

For collector’s, there will be a signed limited edition (available starting Sept 19/ 9 A.M. EDT).

As for me? I hate to be a wet blanket, but while it sounds like fun, I’m just interested in the book itself. A fancy cover seems to be just a lot of bells and whistles. It’s the story that people are buying, not the cover. Especially a Stephen King book. But then, while Scribner no doubt has their reasons for such extravagance, I do wonder just how much the cover is contributing to the street price of $ 35.00, when the average retail price of most hard covers, as we all know, has climbed to around $ 27.00. That’s a lot of money for something that is basically read just once. But then, this is Stephen King.

Should books be judged by their covers? Time will tell.

Finally, for anyone interested in the complete history of book covers, you can check this link.

Thanks for this information, Frank. I did some lurking at the several King sites Frank mentions above and am amazed at the enthusiasm these fans have for his work and his life. This has been noted many times by others, and it's not like I was unaware of it, but seeing it in action is instructive. And certainly King is not alone in engendering this sort of passion in readers. I'd like to keep in touch with this fan world, and intend to add continuing updates as the date of the release of the King book approaches. I'd be interested in hearing comments from these fans, and in comments from others about this sort of fan loyalty.

Here's the cover for the German edition.

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