When I spend time with my youngest grandchildren, I am the one chosen to read a bedtime story to them. Mom and Dad take turns doing so on most nights, but when Grandma is visiting, I'm it. Saturday night, Cole who is almost 4, picked out a book called Franklin Goes To School. Franklin is a cute little turtle that preschool kids love. He has many of the same kind of fears, likes and dislikes that they do.
When we finished the story about Franklin's first day at school, Cole took the book from my hands and studied the front cover with the picture of Franklin on it. Then he turned the book over and spent some time looking at what the publisher had put on the back cover. There were five or six book covers that showed other Franklin books in the series. Cole pointed to each one and was able to tell me what the book would be about from the picture on the cover. One he especially liked showed Franklin in the hospital. "I want this one and this one and this...." my grandson told me. Cole did exactly what the publisher hoped. He was interested in the other books and wants to have them all.
When I returned home the next evening, I found an e-mail from a friend who is experiencing self-publishing a non-fiction books she's written. She's working with a group that helps authors through the self-publication process. She's also working with lawyers regarding the content of the book, for fear of possible law suits. Everything was going along well when she learned she could not use the picture a book designer had selected for the cover due to a possible copyright infringement. The review copies had already been printed and were ready to go out to 30 reviewers, so off they went with the wrong cover. The same picture was on the business cards she'd had printed, so out they go. And she's back to square one with the cover selection.
So there I was in a two day period learning about book covers, both front and back. One with an adult author and the other with a preschool child who spent a lot of time looking at the back cover of a book.
I think I may look at book covers, both front and back, a little differently now. It appears that both are pretty important, whether you're a reader or a writer.