Computer Book Covers are Nuts
Friday 11 June, 2004 (11:52AM GMT)
"Hmm. I can't decide which book to buy with my pocket money. I know! I'll go with the one with the cover I like!"
People in the publishing industry know it, I know it and you know it - people will invariably, to one degree or another, judge a book by its cover.
There must be something special about web design book covers though (maybe computer books in general - I'm just going on my experience) because, well, they strike me as being kind of nuts. I'm not saying they're necessarily bad, they just, well, strike me as being different on the whole. Maybe there's some kind of special formula. I'm no expert. If anyone could enlighten me I'd be grateful...
Take "More Eric Meyer on CSS" for example. I received it in the post a while back and ripped open the packaging to be faced with the book cover. I stopped panicking when I looked around and realised I hadn't actually lost the ability to see colours with a green or blue wavelength and then I saw three Eric Meyers looking kinda mischievous. Like Michel Keaton in "Multiplicity". What? Why?
The cover to Joe Clark's "Building Accessible Websites" still confuses me. What is going on there? It's like a sadistic episode of Robotic ER or something. "OK. Clear! Stat! Let's rip open this robot's chest! Swab! Scalpel! Oh my GAAAAAD! IT'S A GAPING CHASM WITH A BOOK TITLE IN IT!"
As for that "Whatever for Dummies" ubiquitous patronising cartoon man that adorns every other cover in the computer section of a bookstore, he needs a big cartoon slap.
Young, slim, unblemished, attractive. They're usually the kind of attributes you find in people exploited to encourage people to buy one product or another. I'm guessing that pretty people sell (whether it's right or wrong is another matter - we're talking about business here). But it must be different for computer books. Why else would Wrox insist on plastering a huge photo of a balding chubby man with a big beard, not tucked away in the corner of the fifth page of the book, but POW! Right there in your face on the front cover?
Now I'd understand it more if, like certain hip-hop album covers, said beardy bloke was sitting on a throne, smoking a Cuban cigar, adorned with chunky diamond jewellery and dressed in a baggy Adidas tracksuit with one arm around a golden keyboard and one arm around a scantly-clad buxom "ho" (or three). That'd be funny. I'd buy a book with that cover even if it were about something I had no interest in. Oops. There I go judging a book by its cover...