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Even more incentive to get the back cover blurb right!

I noticed this article in the Guardian today.

Flipping hell: book designers lament Waterstones' back-to-front displays

Apparently, due to the Covid situation, some reopening branches of Waterstones are displaying the books with the back cover outwards/upwards so that customers can read the book's description without needing to pick it up. If a customer touches a book but doesn't then follow up with a purchase it has to go into quarantine for 72 hours (the book, not the customer!).

As someone who used to contribute to book covers myself, I feel the pain of the cover artists and designers whose hard work will now be hidden away and unappreciated. But I found myself wondering what changes might be made in the long term if this practice becomes widespread and continues.

What will that mean for writers? Will the blurb move to the front cover eventually, perhaps reduced in length and incorporated into the book's cover design? Will the focus of the jacket design change over time to the back cover rather than the front? 

Either way, if the back cover is going to be the potential customer's first experience of the book, it makes it all the more vital to get the blurb just right. Something I personally find one of the hardest things. And I know from others' posts on the topic that I'm not alone in this. 

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  • That's a very good point you are making, Jon. Times a' changing... for sure!

    I think the artwork and blurb will not change much, but the way we view them might. I'm thinking digital. We already have the "Look Inside" facility on amazon. In the very near future we may have to browse books digitally, before we order them from the bookshop counter. This in turn may lead to potential buyers not visiting bookshops. Why bother?

    But I'd miss it. I'm feeling bereaved already... As a consumate bookshop browser, whenever I find myself waiting for a train or plane, I always look around for a bookshop, or a WHSmith if nothing better is in place. Browsing books takes me to a land of possibilities, of other wordly people & places. You don't find that in the dutty-free.

    Bookshops will live on, but they might become the rarer experience and we'll be all the poorer  for it.

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