Thursday, May 31, 2012

JA Konrath vs. Stephen King

Mr. King has a new novel coming out from Hard Case Crime, an imprint I've always enjoyed.

This book, Joyland, will be released as a paperback in June, 2013.

It has no scheduled ebook date.

Quote Mr. King: "I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book."

I congratulate Steve on being one of the only bestselling authors to advocate and endorse ebook piracy. I am sure Joyland will race up the NYT List even as it becomes the most pirated ebook of all time, which will show once and for all that piracy doesn't hurt sales.

While Mr. King ignores the preferences of his fans and pretends the future of publishing isn't upon us, this is what I've been doing to embrace the future.

It's no secret that people judge books by their covers. The cover is the first thing a potential buyer sees, and if it is eye-catching, provocative, interesting, or compelling, it gets the reader to take a closer look.

These are examples. For the moment, the only place I'm going to use them is on my website. But it's my guess that online retailers will one day embrace animated ebook covers. There's a lot of potential here. Besides being attention-getting, short animations could be used to show something about the book--maybe a scene or a dramatic moment. They could announce a sale, with a big "99 CENTS" blinking on the cover. They expand opportunity for creativity, both by the cover artist and the author.

There's ZERO reason why animation can't be used. These are GIF files, which are about as universal as JPGs. All computers can read them. Most devices can read them.

Now let's take some questions.

Q: Joe, I HATE these covers! I believe book covers should be a single image, like they've always been! I'm a purist! I weep for the future of publishing!

A: Technology marches on, regardless of personal taste. Lots of people still resist ebooks (right, Mr. King?)

Q: I can imagine looking at a retailer website with a dozen animated ebook covers on it. It'll give me motion sickness. What a terrible idea.

A: The Internet moves. We're used to having things flash and wiggle and turn. But I can see retailers using these so they only move if you mouse over them, or click on them.

Q: Arghh! I already have to pay a lot for cover art. Now I've got to pay extra to have it animated?!?!

A: No one is forcing you to do anything.

Q: Who did these for you and how much was it?

A: My cover artist, Carl Graves, did them. He charged me $350 for the original cover, and $500 to make it move. I don't know what he'd charge you. Depends on what you need.

Currently, Carl is hanging out with me and a bunch of writers at BeerKon, and we'll both be away from our computers until the second week of June.

Q: Aren't these really large files which will cause delays in page loading times?

A: Carl and I are working on making them smaller. The List is the largest, and it's also the lowest resolution--he had to remove colors to get it under 2mb, which explains the pixelation. Too much motion, I guess. Flee is 700kb. Origin is only 75kb.

Q: And you really think this is the future?

A: Yes. But what do I know about predicting the future?

Q: So tell us how you really feel about Stephen King not releasing Joyride as an ebook?

A: I like Hard Case Crime. And I see why King is doing this--it's a nice way of thanking the publisher, and the booksellers. But it isn't nice to the millions of fans who support Mr. King in ebook format. I bet they believe ebooks are "actual books" and they'll be vocal in their disapproval.

Joyland will no doubt be pirated like crazy, and money will be left on the table by King and Hard Case. It's backwards thinking, and a mistake.

We'll see how much negative publicity he gets.

We'll also see if animated covers start catching on.


Tristan said...

I could see animated covers getting some traction in the market. They would not even necessarily be transmitted to the individual reader devices - those would have only a still version. Cuts down on size and "delivery cost" to authors.

Adele Cosgrove-Bray said...

Those blinky eyes are rather good...

JA Konrath said...

As I mentioned in the blog, I'll be away for a few days, so I won't be paying attention to comments.

When i return, I'll reply to the ridiculous responses from Macmillan and Penguin to the DOJ suit.

Dave said...

Never let your animator fade to black/white/nothing. If I'm scanning a list of covers fast enough, I may only look at yours during the point in the animation where there is nothing to see.

YoMatta said...

I love the cover for THE LIST. In any case, I always thought King was a huge proponent of ebooks. Mainly due to watching things like this interview:

Perhaps he has changed his ways, but I've been a supporter of the way King has embraced the taboo throughout his career.

Jen Talty said...

Thanks for making my head explode with endless possibilities. Hmmmm...the ideas for Bob's Duty, Honor, Country is just mindblowing. Yeah. Pretty cool.

Loni said...

Bravo on the covers, but as a side note, I have your blog set up as an RSS feed to deliver to my Outlook inbox. Flee came across as a white blank spot. Origins came across well, but without the blinking eyes. The List was a black rectangle.

Unknown said...

Not sure about this one. Animated gifs are somewhat antiquated already. If online distributors wanted to adopt it, they would've done so years ago. I think you're on to something, but I'd suspect the move would be to a more interactive format, particularly for touchscreen devices.

That being said, your covers look fantastic, though.

Mary Stella said...

I like animated covers much more than book trailers.

Stephen King said:
Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.

That "actual book" comment jumped out at me. It's a tad obnoxious and completely wrong. E-books are actual books, too. He should have said "print book" instead.

Have a great BeerKon, Joe.

Unknown said...

Gifs can be a little glitchy though, that's my only issue with them. You can't know for sure if someone will be able to see it on whatever they're using to view your blog. That being said, I think most feed readers and not-too-outdated browsers can view them without too much glitch.

I'm so contradictory. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while the gifs are nice, they're not exactly there. If that makes any sense.

Erec Stebbins said...

Animation in ebooks: No brainer. The evolution of the medium will mean animation will be not only part of it, but expected in 5-10 years. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Digital is not analog, ebooks not static paper. Nothing will be the same. The only thing stopping it is the previous norms that some people will be attached to. But norms change with each generation.

Welcome to the future.

Anonymous said...

Are the animated covers cool? Yes.

But they scream "Advertisement" instead of book cover (and let's face it, animated ads aren't all that well received on their own either...), unfortunately, which most of us have trained ourselves to screen to the sidelines/flat out ignore while surfing.

The "it-only-animates-if-you-hover-over-it" scenario would be required if this went retail. An entire screen of those animations, good and bad quality alike, side by side would be horrifying.

Doesn't mean I don't like them, mind you. They're very clean & simple, and would be work amazing as flat-out advertisement panels--So there's that at least. I just don't see them being adopted all that quickly as stand-alone book-covers. In this case, I think less is more--if only from a design standpoint.

But to the other half of this post:

Not providing an ebook alternative to Joyland's physical copy at release is 100% a mistake, and this will come back to haunt Mr. King (and his publisher) in a bad way (not the good way his horror novels work).

In the meantime, I'll guess I'll sit on my hands and wait for the ebook to be released. Out of principle.

Patricia JL said...

I love the animated covers and can see ebooks doing those. You could say they'd be like the inside image after the book cover on romance novels use (I can't for the life of me remember what the term for those are) show something a little extra about the book with images.

Bridget McKenna said...

The covers are very cool, Joe. I think you're on to something. And I'm disappointed to hear Mr. King's decision about the new title. For him it's probably an interesting experiment he can well afford to make, but for a certain percentage of his readers who (like me) no longer buy paper books, it's a big letdown.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Stephen King and most ebook writers is that Stephen King can actually write.

His books don't need gimmicks to sell. He doesn't need to give them away or sell them at bargain basement prices. He doesn't need animated covers. He doesn't need to write one a month to make a living. Why?

Because he can actually write and there is always a demand for quality.

Cat Carlisle said...

I'm probably showing my piracy ignorance here, but could someone explain to me how Joyland is going to be pirated as an ebook if there is no original ebook for the pirates to steal? Pirating an ebook sounds easy - just remove the DRM and upload. But pirating a paper book sounds harder. Will someone have to type the entire book into an electronic format? Or can they scan each page and have it transcribed automatically? Or would they just scan all the pages to a PDF?

Ken Lindsey said...

I love these covers! Great idea, thanks for sharing.

Eric said...

I love the animated covers and hope that the catch on and wish that Amazon would let us load GIFs not just JPEGs.

Joe, what software does Carl Graves use for his animation? Is he using After Effects or something else?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you're trashing Stephen King for not releasing an ebook. King was the first major author to pioneer digital publishing back in the year 2000.

Alfred Poor said...

+1 for animated covers. I find that I like the subtle (Origin) more than the comprehensive (Flee), but the market will tell us what works best.

Joe, when you get back, can you please start lobbying Amazon for GIF covers for Kindle listings?

Monica Shaughnessy said...

I love, love, love the covers. I do believe they're the future. But like anything else, their advantage will belong to the first movers. Once the masses adopt animated covers, consumers will tire of them and tune them out.

As for King's novel, I'll still be buying his "real book," I love his writing that much. Can't help it!

Livia Blackburne said...

Ack. I do think the covers look cool, but only on mouseover, please. Otherwise, I foresee big business for the first programmer to code up a browser extension that blocks animated gifs on ebook retailer storefronts.

Rick G said...

I like the animated covers.

Additionally that also explains where Carl has been. Been trying to get in touch with him...guess I shall hold off on bugging him until Beerkon ends.

Dan DeWitt said...

I really like the animated covers idea, and I normally agree with most everything you say, but I have to call you out on this:

"Lots of people still resist ebooks (right, Mr. King?)"

He's never been resistant to ebooks. Quite the opposite, in fact. In 2000, he published the ebook-only serial "The Plant." Also in 2000, he published "Riding the Bullet," the world's first mass-market electronic book. "Ur" and "Mile 81" are both ebook only.

He's always experimenting. Killing him for publishing a work in print only form for however long a time, and implying that he's resistant to e-books, is disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

"Cat Carlisle said...I'm probably showing my piracy ignorance here, but could someone explain to me how Joyland is going to be pirated as an ebook if there is no original ebook for the pirates to steal?"

In the old days, Cat, we... no wait, I mean other people (yeah, that's it) used to divide the book up by chapter and everyone in the news group/forum/chat room would be assigned one to copy. We (dang it), I mean, They, could compile an entire book in one evening. (Once upon a time, you could actually go on eBay and purchase a CD that contained entire collections of out of print books. I imagine I still have the complete Doc Savage on a hard drive laying around somewhere.) These days, the book can be scanned and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software turns it into text. Software like Calibre can turn the text file into ePud, Mobi, etc. It's not always clean, but it'll suffice (plus, there are plenty of anal people out there willing to clean up and format files).

The thing is, publishers don't stand a chance to prevent piracy. eBooks can be copied or produced with either a little computer cleverness or manpower, and the internet has an abundance of both.


Barbra Annino said...

Brilliant idea! Making reading even more fun is always a good thing.

Merrill Heath said...

As a reader, I look for:
1. an entertaining story,
2. properly edited - meaning not a lot of typos, grammatical errors, etc.,
3. in a format that isn't distracting - I want the ebooks I read to look like books.

I choose books to read based on:
1. recommendations from friends and acquaintences who share my tastes,
2. descriptions that are well-written and pique my interest,
3. sample chapters - I almost always sample a book before buying it unless I'm a fan of the author and know what I'm getting,
3. price (although this is not a huge factor).

I do not pay any attention at all to:
1. the publisher,
2. book trailers,
3. reviews,
4. covers (unless they are really bad or offensive).

So, while I think animated covers are neat, as an author I probably won't use them until I'm the only guy out there who doesn't have animated covers and I'm virtually forced to use them. To me they seem gimicky and don't add any value to the experience. So I'd be hard-pressed to justify the cost. I also suspect there would be lots of issues, as others have pointed out, with the covers not coming off as planned. A black blob that's supposed to be animated, but isn't, is much worse than a well-designed static cover.

The entertainment value is still in the content of the book - not a flashy cover that will be ignored after about ten seconds, or a trailer that will never be watched by most prospective buyers, or other marketing ploys.

But that's just me. Joe, I do think your covers look good. But now I've seen them and the "Oh, cool!" factor is done. And they didn't inspire me to click the buy button.

smober said...

Animated eBook covers is in the not-so-distant future as a regular thing, though I'm sure that it will be a while before the majority of eBooks have them. Many people will want to stick with the "traditional" at first, and some just won't be able to afford to have animated eBook covers made for their work, but it'll one day become the norm.

Individuals fighting against progress does not stop progress, it just makes the individual behind the times.

Tony Hursh said...

"Will someone have to type the entire book into an electronic format? Or can they scan each page and have it transcribed automatically?"

Probably a combination, actually. OCR is much better nowadays, but still needs some manual proofreading and correction.

A lazy pirate could even use one of the web sites (there are many) that lets you hire transcribers in foreign countries for $2.00/hour or whatever. Remember, this only needs to be done once.

Darci said...

Eh, the whole section of this post on SK just smacks of picking a silly soapbox for attention.

The other part - I've often wondered why covers haven't become incredible works of digital art. Looking at these ones answers those thoughts. Until they are animated they are VERY well done. Now I realize animation just isn't for me I guess.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

I find the covers compelling... and I think they work particularly well in connection with certain genres... s/f, fantasy, horror. Just like anything else, they will take getting used to. It's another element to use for artistically presenting your work and attracting readers.

As to those pointing out that King was an early proponent of ebooks, I'm quite sure Joe is aware of that. I don't even think King is taking any kind of a stand (heh, get it?) against ebooks, but is doing something interesting and different to see what his sales are when he delays, indefinitely, release of an e-version. Naturally, he can afford this.

These are all hiccups on the way to the future, where e-reading is the norm, and print books are the rarity. It's coming sooner than you think.

Pete Miller said...

The animated covers will be nice on our author websites, but I agree that a whole page of these would be annoying.

I think the paperback release by King is not meant to be a slap in the face of ereader fans, but King's desire to have an old school paperback. Hard Case's books are great with great covers and in the mass market size. In my opinion King is doing this for fun.

Before you know it he'll do more ebook only, or maybe an audio book release first. That doesn't make him a luddite or something.

When looking to self pub some novellas, I tried to use the mass market size paperback for the print version, but didn't have any luck finding that size, so I ended up with the smallest size that create space offers...

Of course the ebooks were already out...

Ron Edison said...

Surprising, from a guy (King) who pioneered e-book efforts in the early days. I wonder what’s really behind this decision. But this is the guy who’s rep fronted the launch of Hard Case with the promise of COLORADO KID, a book so disappointing, so not-a-mystery, so flawed in every aspect, that I would rather tie it to my bumper and drag it around town until tattered beyond recognition than foist in on another reader by trading it in at a book swap. (It rests on my Shelf of Shame, my haven for negative examples I use to show students how not to do it.) However, I did like HAVEN, the TV series loosely based on CK. So I’m not eager to give King a second shot at mystery e-book or print.
I’m a big fan of lurid, pulpy covers (Frazetta, McGinnis, etc.), and the near-demise of Hard Case was a blow. Since going digital, the covers are about the only thing I miss.
An animated cover for romance? Fabio's hair wafting in the breeze? A jiggle of cleavage? Hmmm.

Merrill Heath said...

Ron said: An animated cover for romance? Fabio's hair wafting in the breeze? A jiggle of cleavage? Hmmm.

LOL. I don't want to even imagine what we might get with erotica.

Sheri L. Swift, Author said...

My book is for YA Fiction/Fantasy, so I believe the .99 is a good thing for them and our planet. I also like the print on demand for print books, less waste. The concept of ebooks having a moving cover is really interesting, I think it will definitely appeal to teens. We'll see how it takes on. I like it. ;)

Eric Heimburg said...

I don't expect animated covers to get too much traction. They haven't in other media. We expected them to take off for web-based game sites, as it's the ideal audience. But nope. Only a few sites ended up sticking with them in any form. The problem is they feel too busy. They take away from other promo efforts too much. And mouse-rollovers are a dead end because of tablets and mobile. I'm sure there will be a few venues for them but my professional opinion is that they are not "the future" of any web-based media sales.

Jill James said...

The covers look cool. Love the Origin one. I think they would do best with YA or suspense/thrillers.

FYI: Fabio is no longer on romance covers.

Lee Lopez said...

Love the covers. They're pretty cool. As time marches they'll probably get a lot cheaper.
As far as King putting out a book only in paperback, hardcore or whatever, King fans will always buy the physical book first because they collect them, even if they download to a reader. Nora Roberts for a time use release her books in book form first, before the book would go to e-form. Not sure if she still does that or not.

Thomas Diehl said...

Oh dear, this will increase the number of shitty covers tenfold. Not because animation is bad, but because it is hard to do properly.
Your examples are done properly (well mostly, I'd like The List more if it was only a spinning helix and Flee grows annoying rather quickly).

However, eInk cannot do animation yet and eInk is here to stay in addition to tablet computers. Because of people like me who prefer to look at eInk as opposed to a screen (it's just easier on the eyes). eINk is on the brink of mass daption of color. Animation may be one or two years from now. Until then, it is a nice thought, but nothing more.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the animated covers only because bookstore sites are already loaded with animations. If, however, the books were static on the listings and search pages, but when you opened the individual book page, the covers were animated--that works. Eye-catching without the nuisance fact of EIGHT DOZEN BLINKY THINGS on the main pages.

One animated cover is eye-catching. Fifteen animated covers with different movements and speeds is just a nuisance. (And possible seizure- or migraine-inducing. Just because you have no interest in trying to cause epileptic attacks in your potential customers, doesn't mean some dipshit wouldn't be *thrilled* at the opportunity.)

If covers started being animated on searches and listings? I'd either find a plugin that shut them off (I browse the web with Flashblock as it is, and hit ESC to stop gifs when I notice them), or turn off images.

I suspect animated covers have a ways to go before being commercially viable for most authors. Too much variation in browsers, in ereaders, in hardware settings (is the animation better or worse if the screen's brightness is turned all the way up or down?), and so on.

Yours look great. I don't think they'll catch on soon--and I hope I'm right about that, because I don't want to wade through hundreds of badly-made amateur blinking bookcovers to go along with the badly-made MSPaint covers I already see.

It's possible that most ebook stores require covers in jpg or png format precisely to avoid this problem.

James R. Tuck Dark Urban Fantasy Author said...


Really. I love them. I want to know if there is a way to use them as the cover of the book itself. THAT would rock.

But I agree, wave of the future.

(Starts budget now)

James Viser said...

Those animated covers are badass! Absolutely cool, remind me of the living paintings on the walls Hogwart's.

Robwriter said...

I've had Origin for a while on my Nook. It was a great story and enjoyed it immensely. While I was reading this post my 16 yr. old daughter came up behind me and the eyes caught her attention right away. She asked what it was and I told. She immediately wanted to know what the book was about so I brought up the description in another browser tab. After reading that she wanted to read the book so I handed her my Nook and she is readin it right now. So the covers will catch on simply because the younger generation will want it.

Anonymous said...

King. Unknown motivation. Will wait and see.

Covers. Cool, but only for personal websites and only 1 or 2 at a time. E-stores would drive me nuts. Every tried shopping on rakuten? The Japanese take eye pain to new levels. (click through to a few personal shops and you'll see what I mean. All hail Amazon - for my sanity!

Jason Z. Christie said...

You, sir, are so brilliant I'm tempted to call you an asshole out of spite.

Seriously good indie books

Anonymous said...

epub 3 will support animation more fully, but I've constructed test books with animated GIF files that are perfectly readable by most readers already: Apple iBooks among others.

Kiana Davenport said...

A BLINKING DEVIL IS OVERKILL. What is rivetting about the original cover was the dead-on stare. I love any good novel about the devil, and thought ORIGIN was near-brilliant. ( By the by, where's the sequel?)

But animated covers? Maybe for lesser, just-breaking-in writers who need an audience.

Too gimmicky. To DisneyWorld. Sorry.

Steve K. said...


Anonymous said...

What I'm waiting for is a full-color holographic image that jumps off the screen and into my living room. :)

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Love the animated covers. Just bought Flee because it did catch my eye. And because I loved Exposed :)

Karen Woodward said...

Animated book covers, love it! When the eyes on the Origin cover opened I jumped. Effective in creating a mood, in setting up an expectation.

I was puzzled by Stephen King's move not to release an ebook version of Joyland. If memory serves, he was the first to release an ebook for commercial sale (Riding The Bullet, The Plant), though I don't know if they were known as ebooks back then.

I agree with what you said about King's desire to thank the booksellers, I was completely puzzled why King was doing this before I read that. Physical bookstores wouldn't make any money from the sale of the ebook version.

Athough, as others have pointed out, the language used--calling physical books 'actual books'--would indicate that perhaps there's something else going on. But perhaps it's nothing more than nostalgia. Nostalgia for the 1970s and for reading the kind of books (mass market paperbacks) that a kid like King would have had access to. At least, outside of the library. I know that, as a kid, I didn't have enough money to purchase hardcover books.

Doug Wright said...

I agree Karen, Stephen King led the way when he experimented with 'The Plant' before he pulled it off the web. I have Riding the Bullet.

I think there's more to this than what we see right now. However, I've been using my Kindle less and less lately and reading printed books.

Anonymous said...

OMG THOSE ANIMATED COVERS ARE SO COOL! If I ever decide to self-publish eBooks I am SO animating all my covers.

Also, LOL at the erotica animated covers comment!

T Ludlow said...

elf: "One animated cover is eye-catching. Fifteen animated covers with different movements and speeds is just a nuisance. "

I agree, the novelty wears off. I'm reminded of the web-page Homer Simpson threw together: wall-to-wall animated GIFs.

One or two subtle animations on a page might be okay, but too many and I'd start to get annoyed.

Todd Trumpet said...

And in the category of "How Did I Miss An Idea So Obvious..."


Lin Sherman said...

Here's what will happen. Amazon will eventually allow animated covers, but because of all the complaints, they'll have to add an option to disable the animations.

So both sides will "win". Sort of.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

It's just a gimmick - the actual book need to be good.

jenny milchman said...

Well, I really truly can't predict anything, but one possibility that occurs to me is that if e books go in the direction of making heavy use of the tricks afforded by the technology, it may open up an even greater rift between print and e.

What readers want from fiction is a great story, a story to get lost in. I'm sure a cool cover doesn't hurt, but I also don't know that it helps a lot. That first chapter--page--sentence is going to do a lot more selling. And so will the last.

If e books become a repository for trailers, cartoons, mini-movies, anime, etc., and oh, yes, there's a novel to read, too, it may dilute the medium enough that people don't build the association the makers and marketers of e readers so want to be there: to a book.

Such things might be interesting and cool and people who like tech might prefer to read this way. But I think they will also work to maintain the unique place that a print book holds, wherein we go and do nothing (which is everything) besides follow the words down the roads they lead.

John Paul Allen said...

Gee Steve, I thought what I download to my Kindle were actual books.

Simon Haynes said...

The first cover is white and the last one is black with a white line across the middle. Like many, I have my browser set up to display animations once only, then stop.

Simon Haynes said...

Also, you may hear from mobile users on tight data plans who happened to visit your blog today. (When I'm on mobile I have the browser set to block ALL images, but a 500mb/month data plan always turns me into a data scrooge.)

bettye griffin said...

Too gimmicky for my taste.

Anonymous said...

King is old school and is doing this, as he said, to feel like one of the old mystery writers who churned out paperback after paperback. So what? He's not trying to take a stand on e-books. He didn't say he would never release it in e-book. He's Stephen King. If he wanted to go really old school and release limited editions of his works on rolls of parchment people would still line up to buy them. I don't understand why you would try to paint him in a bad light over this. He's made it many times over and is and a point in his career where he can do whatever the hell he wants and who's going to stop him?

wannabuy said...


Wow, ebooks might be 15% of the publishing market by 2015 per that video. We're were past that just 4 months after that September 2010 interview back in January 2011! Graphs:

Is King doing this for the press?

Love the animated covers. As already noted, that has to be a given for erotica very soon. ;)


Archangel said...

I think trying new things is ever the way to go. But, for me, buying habits might pass on animated covers unless they do something more than glisten, spin, pan, fade in and out, sparkle, or peek a boo, or run a still or two. Just spkg for myself, I browse books fast, dont want to be slowed down to watch a cover do any of the above unless it tells a sharp story fast and clearly.

Seems that animation inside certain kinds of books that are not repurposed but original illustrative art/ music/ images/ film... that's a talent that, if 'furthering the story' could work for some books. As a painter, I'd rather see no animated graphics unless the story is amplified strongly by them. Many think representational Illustrative art is the hardest kind to do unless one is a draftsman/woman with bonny talent in that area.

Yet, I could see full color figurative illustrations for instance, coming to life thoughout a book, but it would full sudden living art with story emphasis to it. Just my .02.

who's waiting for animated ink throughout all ebook graphic novels. That would be totally tight

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

All three of those animated covers are very nice. I agree with the few people who mentioned problems with the Flee cover going to all white but that’s just a small issue that’s easily fixed.

My problem is you mention “short animations could be used to show something about the book--maybe a scene or a dramatic moment.” Maybe I’m just too negative but I can see the same people who do movie trailers doing the book trailers with the same disregard for spoilers. I already have to work to avoid seeing commercials for movies I want to see. Someday am I going to have to pick out books with my eyes closed?

As for in book animation I don’t think it’s anything I would ever want. For a comic or graphic novel sure, but even if an animation illustrates or adds information in a novel I don’t want anything that’s going to pull me out of the text and back into the real world.

Christopher John Chater said...

That Flee cover is the best cover of yours I've seen. Awesome stuff. I've experimented with gif with my own covers, but have heard that some people are annoyed by gif images. I think they are the future. Please tell us if there's a spike in sales for those titles.

A.Rosaria said...

Animated Covers! Why didn't I think about this before? Jeez, I'll have to figure out how to make my own.

It's a great attention grabber for blogs, website, and ads. And once Amazon supports them it will be to your advantage if you already have them.

I don't think Stephen King cares much if he loses sales. He has a big fanbase that will buy his stuff and probably forgive him his e-book mishap.

cloysterpete said...

Not really a big deal is it, it's not being released in a $30 hardcover, these hard case paperbacks are dirt cheap. I love how you try and make out how King is hurting his fans so bad, which true fan wouldn't fan a few dollars to read his new book irrespective of the format?. As a big fan of Kings work there's no way I would faff about downloading a poorly formatted pirate copy when I could just buy the book for the price of a coffee or whatever. I'm sure after decades of being one of the worlds top authors he's earned the right to release his books how he wants, you may sell millions of ebooks Joe but your never going to become a household name like King become thanks to print so is it any wonder he loves physical books?.

Carmen McCormack said...

You are brilliant Joe and a visionary of the future - LOVE animated covers - what a fascinating idea!! On the subject of Stephen King, I am confused why he would delay the e-book release. I thought he was an avid Kidle fan and supported the e-reader advancement - this decision just makes no sense...

Scott Daniel said...

Mr. King, obviously, has the luxury of leaving money on the table.

Joe, when you get back, I wondered if you'd consider doing a post on how your sales are going lately? It seems like they've been down for most indies and I'm wondering if you've felt the same pinch.

Also, I'm curious as to how your own on-line book store is doing. Some authors have joined forces and set up similar stores (lee goldberg and jon mertz, I believe). Wonder if that might become a viable alternative if things go south with Amazon.

Coolkayaker1 said...

Mr King earns 40 million dollars annually, according to Forbes. Leaving money on the table never entered his mind.

Your new cover for Flee looks like the girl is giving a BJ to the skyscraper.

Dan DeWitt said...

Why on Earth are people confounded over King's mysterious motivation for this? He says it right in the freakin' post:

"I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and FOR THAT REASON, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being."


tess gerritsen said...

I LOVE these animated covers, Joe! What a brilliant idea -- once again, you are the pioneer.

The blinky eyes really creep me out. And not much creeps me out.

dan said...

Having the luxury of leaving money on the table doesn't make it any less stupid. What does he gain from that "luxury" besides a warm feeling in his belly?

And does this mean I didn't actually read Under the Dome because my copy didn't have ink on it? That's just weird. If it wasn't a real book, I must have read a sandwich instead.

Dan DeWitt said...

I also see a lot of whining about his use of the term "actual book," when it couldn't be more obvious that he's referring to a paper book. It's hilarious.

Marta Szemik said...

I think it's a great idea! The covers look awesome! What a neat way to "tell a story" about he book in a few seconds:) Yes, I do think this will catch on.

Anonymous said...

"Bambi vs. Godzilla"

Anonymous said...

"If you say something stupid on the Internet, you open yourself up to justifiably being called stupid." --JA Konrath

Don't you think you've kind of jumped the shark with these last two posts? Attacking King, an immortal writer and a digital pioneer, just because his whims don't conform to your view of the universe? And before that, writing a long, self-indulgent post about how people force you to be a jerk, and it's for their own good, anyweay, you just abuse anyone who disagrees with you as some kind of public service?

Honestly. Leave your bubble.

Donovan Starr said...

Ironically, I've seen e-books with crappy and almost non-existent covers thrive. What gives?

Unknown said...

I would never say never to animated covers, but there is overwhelming evidence that website viewers do not look at moving elements on a webpage. They know those are ads and eye-motion studies show most animations are now highly ineffective.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a thoughtful, effective way to implement the idea. I'd be interested to know the results of your experiment.

LJ Briar said...

I actually think this is a fantastic idea (and way better than the notion of book trailers, frankly). And Mr. Graves did an incredible job on your covers.

Lauri said...

I love the idea of animated covers!! Also, I'm very pleased to see my little dot on your map of visitors. It looks like I'm the only one here from Southern Africa. Thanks to you, two weeks ago I self published three of the books from my Kate Gomolemo detective series (luckily I kept the ebook rights to three of the books). Now trying to teach myself how to get people to buy them.

Unknown said...

Joe said: “I like Hard Case Crime. And I see why King is doing this--it's a nice way of thanking the publisher, and the booksellers.

Joe I’m not sure I agree with this, at least the publisher part. His fans will be inconvenienced by either having to wait a day for the pirate ebook or being forced to buy the paper edition. But eventually after the flame wars everyone will go on their merry way. But isn’t Mr. King also taking money out of the pockets of his publisher? If so, the only ones that will really benefit are the brick and mortar booksellers. Maybe he is starting a one man campaign to save Barnes and Noble.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Mr. King's (I believe it is him) comment - a single word in the midst of a most interesting conversation - immensely: "Hush" :-)

Wicked Christa said...

Damn, Joe - way to get me needlessly overexcited - I thought maybe animated gifs were already possible on Amazon and B&N and I just didn't realize it.

I'm not sure they'll ever allow it, at least not for everybody. Load times on the pages inhibits browsing, which inhibits buying - are the gifs going to increase sales enough to make up the extra storage costs and alienated buyers using them will create?

Still, I'm surprised other image intensive vendors like panelfly aren't already doing it.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Love these covers.

Dawn said...

Joe--as always, love your posts.

IMHO, I think the King thing is more personal nostalgia than an active "e-books are the end of the world" mantra.

Of course, he has the bank account and the clout to have more influence irt publishing contract terms than most writers, so maybe he isn't the best example to use for this?

Or is this more about not giving readers what the market/ trends show they prefer?

BTW Didn't he pioneer some type of story/novella that folks could download and then if so many paid he'd continue the story? (I think that was pre-Kindle, wasn't it? Or am I wrong--the 90s are such a blur)

BTW I do LOVE your new covers, but I am torn. The designer in me says less is more (though I do think "mouseovers" will be feasible)...but then, I was looking at Origin and was like,holy crap did that thing BLINK at me? (which of course is the point--enjoyed the book a lot, btw). So while the designer in me says no, the marketing part of me says yes.

Sounds like my dating life.

J. R. Tomlin said...

I do like that blinky-eye cover. Not being in your tax bracket, I doubt I'll go for something like that, but I can see it happening.

As for Joyland, I read my "actual books" on an eReader and think I can probably find something else to read. Thanks anyway, Mr. King.

Olga Naranjo said...

re: book covers. This has made me realize that when it comes to ebooks I barely look at the cover if at all. Genre, Title, Review, that's it. It's probably a good idea for kids books and YA.

re: King. For some reason, he's ones of few remaining authors that I actually desire to read in print. Not sure why, just takes me back I guess to when I was fifteen, lugging around The Stand. The future is readers but man, there's something about a big, fat paperback on the beach. Nostalgia...

Liana Brooks said...

I find the moving covers as appealing as blinkies on a MySpace page and the dancing person in the car insurance ad I never click.

On Twitter and FaceBook I block people with blinkies. THE LIST has a lovely color, but the constant motion is annoying and I wouldn't want a whole page of book cover wiggling, blinking, and screaming at me.

The compromise is one animation when the page opens, but that's it. I don't want more, and I don't like imagining what it would do to the memory space on my phone.

Unknown said...

A nice thought, but methinks my kindle would resemble Times Square with all those blinking heros and heroines.
Unflattering for some genres, as well. Would there be blood pulsing out of a chest wound? Perhaps a bit of brain matter dribbling from the Zombie's mouth? Or, if Mr King wished, he could have Carrie reanimated to have the icky bucket dumping over her head on the prom stage. Discretion in the choices of animation of course would be another way to separate the professionals from those with poor taste.

jtplayer said...

Konrath vs King. Fail.

Animated book covers. Double fail.

Just write the damn story and make it good. Enough with the gimmicks.

We can debate all day long about what constitutes a real book. But in the end, regardless of format, it comes down to storytelling. And animated covers have jack to do with storytelling.

Sakeyfan said...

Joe, have you addressed this?:

Separately, Peter Glassman from Books of Wonder raises an interesting technical point that supports Penguin's contention that the wholesale model was not established practice for ebooks and employing a different sales model was not as radical as decision as the government concludes: "Publishers have never sold e-books under the wholesale model. Rather, they have sold them under the consignment model. Amazon and other e-book sellers never purchased or took ownership of the e-books they resold. Rather, they advertised the product, handled the transaction, and only after they had received payment and concluded the transaction did they pay the publisher for the e-book. That is consignment, not wholesale. Amazon never placed any buy orders or made any commitments to purchase specific quantities of any e-books. Unless the DOJ is seeking to change the very nature of property ownership in the United Sates and allow vendors to set prices on property they do not own nor have any commitment to purchasing, the precedent the DOJ would be setting should the DOJ win this lawsuit and go forward with its settlements could have grievous unintended consequences.

Dan DeWitt said...

That's interesting, except for the fact that the DOJ lawsuit has nothing to do with the agency model per se, and only the collusion that brought it about in the first place.

David said...

First off, I'll admit I'm a dead-tree lover. I have a Kindle (with a few of Joe's books on it, which, I must say, I enjoyed), but I just don't find myself using it very often. That said, I agree whole-heartedly that ebooks are the future. No doubt about it.

I've got mixed feelings on the animated covers. They're very, very cool and eye-catching, but as some have pointed out, I can see them becoming overwhelming. I think that retailers are going to have to find a way to work around that.

Regarding King's move, as some have pointed out, I don't think he's too worried about leaving money on the table. I agree with Joe that this is, at least in part, a thank you to Hard Case Crime and booksellers. Yes, Hard Case (and King) might lose a few sales to piracy, but a new King novel under the Hard Case imprint will sell many, many times what their books usually do.

Also, I'm not sure how badly this is going to hurt him. Only the most die-hard ebook-only readers won't plunk down the $10 a Hard Case Crime paperback costs. Though I'd have to look to be certain, I'm pretty sure this new release will cost less than the ebook version of some of King's backlist. The only people who will pirate it are people who would have done so anyway and a small percentage of folks who hate old-fashioned books so much that they are doing so as a form of protest. This is not the same as King releasing his newest novel as a leather-bound, gilt-paged hardback costing $50.

I don't think that this is King thumbing his nose at ebooks. As others have pointed out, he has long been a proponent. He's also been known to experiment with format in the past, and I think that this is what this is.

When I listened to rockabilly a lot, quite a few bands would release some albums only on vinyl. In doing so did they lose sales? Absolutely! But, for them, it was worth it to achieve a certain effect. Pretty sure that's what King is doing here: trying to achieve a certain feel for a certain type of book.

Much is made here and elsewhere about folks who like print books because of the nostalgia factor. My reaction has always been: so what? I like lots of things for the nostalgia factor. There are many reasons to buy a given book. Joe himself talked in this post about the importance of cover art. I think format is just as valid a reason to buy a particular novel. (Of course, the quality of the book is paramount, but that's a given.) I've got every book Hard Case has put out sitting on my shelf. This would not be the case if they didn't evoke that nostalgic feel. think King is merely trying to tap into that.

Anonymous said...

Very excited about the animated covers! I think gifs are underestimated and underused.*

(*not myspace blinky light gifs. Things like cinemagraphs. Check out these animated gifs/cinemagraphs for some real eye candy.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Sisco said...

Your animated covers are a brilliant idea. I could absolutely see them catching on and becoming more commonplace in the future. I particularly love the one for Origin, which is eye-catching and genius in its simplicity.

Anonymous said...

Stephen King has only slightly more motivation to be pro-ebook than Ernest Hemingway. He could choose to put out his books on papyrus. As for ebook cover animation, get back to me when writing is in 3D IMAX.

Mark Asher said...

Thing is, once everyone's cover is animated once again no one's cover really stands out.

I'm also not sure about six covers in the Amazon "also boughts" all fully animated would go over, and if it would cause loading time problems. I guess that could be solved if only the cover of the book being viewed were animated, but then again the eye-catching part of it wouldn't come into play until someone actually clicked to view the book.

And I guess it might not be limited to books. How about movies and TV shows for sale or rental? Everyday products for sale? Why not animate every icon associated with anything that's for sale or rent?

Gavin Bell said...

King's decision doesn't bother me, and I think it suits the Hard Case brand. It won't affect me since I read both ebooks and paperbacks. The only format I've always been reluctant to read is a hardback.

I don't understand people who think paper books are on their way out. It makes as little sense as the luddites who refuse to even try using a Kindle.

There's room for both formats, because they give you different things. You can't match the Kindle for convenience, but a nicely-produced paperback gives you a physical experience that ereaders will never be able to fully replicate.

Anonymous said...

Re King "leaving money on the table" it's worth remembering that Stephen King had to have some special arrangements when it came to being paid for his books. The bottom line was that he was being paid so much money that it was unwise to take everything that was owed to him in one year for tax reasons.

Remember, what Joe has earned in a lifetime, Stephen King earns from one book. As with many in the mega-rich bracket, he is in no hurry to collect.

It's about having a career as a writer, not making a quick buck from a trend in technology.

Janni Nell said...

Love the cover of Origin! A little movement but not too much to be overwhelming.

jeroentenberge said...

As a consumer it would drive me mad. I scan 12 covers, the average number of covers I see per page when browsing through Amazon, in 8 seconds or less. I then choose to click on the cover that attracts or the next page.

One animation takes about 3 to 5 seconds to complete, reading 12 animated covers simultaneously screaming for attention would take a lot more time. And frustrate me to no end.

These covers are among Carl's best and in my opinion don't require any animation to improve their impact. I can instantly determine whether a cover conveys something that attracts me - the original covers do, these animations don't.

RAY DILLON said...

You're a genius! Your covers look great! You're going to clean up! And I'm totally going to copy this idea! :D Seems if you keep them simple you'll be successful. No doubt there will be ridiculously flashy, blink, nonsense like in the early days of .gif animation, but you have hit the nail on the head right out of the gate (double metaphor!)

By the way, I'm a cover art (as well as a writer). Currently creating art for Game of Thrones on HBO and Ridley Scott's "Prophets of Science Fiction" on the Science Channel. I'd be very interested in working with you on covers!


pamcl said...

Your animated covers are very cool, but I think it's best to keep them on your website.

Just my opinion, but they remind of me how people were so excited by Flash at first, and how everyone added that technology to their websites so that there was an annoying light show every time you landed on a new page.

People quickly provided options to skip the Flash intro and when the majority of people did so, mostly because of the time factor involved in loading fancy Flash sites, the use of Flash slowed way down.

Anything that slows the information flow online is not good.

If there was a way to just animate when you hover, and not use too much bandwidth, then I'd be all for it, but not at the expense of speed.

pamcl said...

The animated covers are cool, but I think best on your site.

They remind me of when Flash was first introduced and how everyone started going crazy with Flash intros and then realized how annoying they were and that most people were hitting the skip intro option because it was so much faster.

That's the main thing here, speed. If this will slow down the online experience, it will not be a good thing.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

pamcl said...

I vote no, except on your own site.

It reminds me of when everyone tried to out Flash each other with their intros and then realized most people were hitting the skip intro button because it was taking too long otherwise.

Michael said...

I've love animated covers and have enjoyed making a number of simpler ones for romance author Alanna Coca / Olivia Brynn. I agree with some though that too many can be distracting, as well as badly impact page loading time if you're not careful. Loading time can be improved by keeping the animation simple in order not to end up with a large file, or animating only on hover. Animating on hover would be a way to reduce distraction as well.

Very simple opening eyes animation added to liven up a drab cover provided by the pub:


Longer animation for a different book but still a fairly small file.

Michael said...

A note about retailer support for animated covers:

As far as I know, only Smashwords provides a means to view them. You won't see them in the book search, or even on a book detail page, but if you click to view a cover full size and it's an animated GIF, it will display the original GIF.

Mira said...

I love those covers, that's fantastic.

So cool. Some people have been concerned that the cover gets lost in the e-book, this will bring the cover back!

In terms of the Stephen King, I like your post.

I have no idea why he is doing this, but it's a definite risk. He made me angry. He will make many other people angry. And he will go down in history as being backward rather than forward thinking.

Besides, it won't accomplish anything. I convinced someone to try e-books last week in five minutes.

He told me he was loyal to print books and had no interest in e-books. I showed him my Kindle app on my phone. I showed him it was backlit. I showed him what it looked like to read a book, and how you could change print size. I showed him I had over 300 books I was carrying around with me. I showed him how to buy and download a book in less than 3 minutes.

He was completely sold.

E-books are the future. What King is doing is just a glitch in the road, risky because it may cause negative press, and angry fans - like me.

Anne Francis Scott said...

Love the animation! I agree that it would be too much to look at if every book cover moved and flashed, but the idea of mousing over or clicking to activate the animation is right-on! I'd like to see the cover animation active on Kindle as well. J.A.--as an indie author, I appreciate your marketing savvy. You're blazing the trail for the rest of us. Keep up the good work.

dafaolta said...

King's position on the paperbacks of his youth is understandable. Can't really have pulps without paper. Still, it misses the point that he's not selling these books to himself. He's selling them to his audience, which includes lots of people who will not be pleased that they can't get their fix instantly.

I agree that his rabid fans will crawl over broken glass if necessary, but the whole idea of marketing is Not to make it that hard. It's foolish.

I was a little ticked by the "actual book" comment until I realized this is a nostalgia thing for him. Holding a physical book with a physical cover and physical pages was an important part of the reading experience. He's intent on sharing what that felt like.

The problem with nostalgia is that those feelings don't translate from person to person.

MJRose said...

I've been animating the cover gifs as best I can when I do ads for book clients for the last few years and they get way more attention than static visuals. By as much as 300% -500%!!! They really stand out. I've been asking vendors for a while why they can't integrate animated covers into the actual ebooks. Sure hope we're only minutes away from them being used in more venues. I love them - great Joe for doing them - yours are totally fun!

Terry Odell said...

Argh -- I don't even like flash stuff on websites. And when the entire cover disappears, removing the title and authors' name ... that would never attract me. But the blinking eyes work.
But I'm always four steps behind the market, except for e-publishing. However, I started before indie was an option, and my books were published by legitimate e-publishers. My first reader was an eBookwise.

Dan DeWitt said...

Mira said:

"I have no idea why he is doing this, but it's a definite risk. He made me angry. He will make many other people angry. And he will go down in history as being backward rather than forward thinking."

This is asinine for multiple reasons.

labyris said...

I guess Mr. King is free to do as he likes with the publication of his book. I wish he knew that for some of us, ebooks aren't merely a preference but also a necessity and that paperbacks are the hardest books to access if you have visual impairment. I have no problem with people also enjoying paper books. I was able to for many years. But those days are over.

labyris said...

I wrote to the publisher, explaining that with my eyesight I needed the ebook so I could increase the font size. I got this pleasant reply:

Hi, Tapati --

Thanks for your note. I do appreciate your point of view (having pretty
terrible eyes myself). I'm fairly sure Stephen King will eventually
authorize an e-book edition of this book, some number of months after our
edition comes out, so you should be able to read it in that format before
too much longer. I appreciate that the delay is annoying, but it shouldn't
be *too* huge a delay.

Best regards,
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

So we'll see how long it takes.

jtplayer said...

I guess Mr. King is free to do as he likes with the publication of his book. I wish he knew that for some of us, ebooks aren't merely a preference but also a necessity and that paperbacks are the hardest books to access if you have visual impairment. I have no problem with people also enjoying paper books. I was able to for many years. But those days are over.

I don't understand this comment. Why can't you get some reading glasses and read whatever you choose? That's what I do.

T. B. Back said...

Animated covers on billboards, yes. In listings, like Amazon's, no.

For size reasons, animations don't work on thumbnails, and when a cover illustration has hooked me enough to click, I'm already in search-for-blurb mode: I've moved on to words.

By then an animated cover is like having a blinking Christmas tree in the corner of your eye. Annoying.

Griffin Hayes said...

Firstly, I love the animated covers and I think they're perfect for an author's website. But I'd like to echo the sentiments of others here by saying I pray this technology never becomes common place on book websites like Amazon. Our brains are already under enough of an assault from the dozens of still images crying out for our attention. I worry a page filled with such mini-movies would induce seizure and/or trigger an embolism.

As for King, my sense is (no facts here of course folks) that he's been asked by his legacy buddies to lend a hand. Perhaps in the same way authors are 'asked' to write blurbs for colleagues. Unless that is, he's changed his mind about the whole ebook thing he helped to popularize back in 2000.

Selena Kitt said...

Merrill Heath said... LOL. I don't want to even imagine what we might get with erotica.

Um... that's what I was thinking. Not sure this kind of thing would be good for my genre. We get enough grief already for what's on the covers!

As for SK's release only in paperback... damn! This really tests my loyalty. What to do, what to do?

Michael E. Walston said...

Pete Miller said:
I think the paperback release by King is not meant to be a slap in the face of ereader fans, but King's desire to have an old school paperback. Hard Case's books are great with great covers and in the mass market size. In my opinion King is doing this for fun.

I think this poster nailed it.

To claim that SK is "advocating" and "endorsing" piracy is just plain silly.

Some people were miffed when "The Bullet" wasn't made available in print right away, too...

You're not entitled to instant gratification, people.


Haku Mele said...

That was my thought as well. Buyers could be offered the option of paying a premium for the animated version.

Tiz said...

...this is genius. I never even considered animated book covers, but it really grabs the eye! Very forward thinking!

I'm a young woman, so naturally, I'm attracted to pretty things that swirl and move so I think I'd be more inclined to see what the pretty book has to offer when compared to the still version. I deliberately made my book cover simple in an attempt to target young readers. It seems to have been relatively effective, but deep down, I really am regretting having such a simplistic design. Maybe animating it could help...

Mira said...

Dan, I just noticed your pleasant comment to me:

Mira said:

"I have no idea why he is doing this, but it's a definite risk. He made me angry. He will make many other people angry. And he will go down in history as being backward rather than forward thinking."

And your response:

"This is asinine for multiple reasons".

First, thank you for reading my comment. I always appreciate a reader.

Second, although I appreciate your concise response, I wasn't sure which comment you were referring to? Was it my comment that was asinine? Or was it a sort of self-deprecating thing to say "this comment is asinine" and be referring to that comment itself?

Please let me know. I'm concerned, because if you're talking about your own comment, I wish you wouldn't put yourself down like that. I'm sure you're a good person, with many redeeming qualities (although I'm not sure I'd add debate skills to that), and you shouldn't call yourself names.

JA Konrath said...

To claim that SK is "advocating" and "endorsing" piracy is just plain silly.

This will become the most widely pirated ebook in history. Kind could prevent that. He chooses not to.

Cause and effect.

Dan DeWitt said...

Mira, no offense, but if that was meant to be a putdown, please try harder next time. Maybe work your way up to "I know you are, but what am I."

The comment that I quoted from you is full of silliness, and here's why:

1) We know why he's doing this, because he said in no uncertain terms why.
2) It's not a risk for an author of his stature.
3) I doubt it will make many other people "angry." In fact, anyone who is truly angry about it should switch to decaf.
4) He's done more to promote ebooks than any other major author. He's not exactly "backward thinking" because he decided to release a pulp novel exclusively in paperback for a few months. I'm pretty sure this won't even merit a footnote in his history.

This entire post and way too many comments are complete overreactions to a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this comment. Why can't you get some reading glasses and read whatever you choose?

People who have a true reading impairment (like macular degeneration) aren't helped by reading glasses. They must use magnifying screens, or have books read to them. Ebooks allow for both. Paperbacks, for neither.


Michael E. Walston said...

This will become the most widely pirated ebook in history. Kind could prevent that. He chooses not to.

Cause and effect.

Joe, I think SK is just choosing to pay a sentimental homage to the paperback originals of yesteryear, that's all.

The fact remains that piracy is illegal. People who choose to be involved with it are breaking the law, and the burden is really not on SK to "prevent" people from being criminals.

LMitch said...

I think the animated book covers are brilliant, but five hundred dollars is steep. I'd be willing to hold an image of your cover and wiggle around a lot for fifty bucks. ;)

All teasing aside, the covers are phenomenal.

Mira said...

@Dan, don't be silly, you were PNWD by my comment.

Although I appreciate the inclusion of an actual argument in your last post, it's still clear that we disagree.

First, I suspect you are a strong King fan and feel some....loyalty to him, and your comments most likely reflect that. If that's true, I get that.

I also understand that you think King is powerful enough to pull this off without consequence. You also take his reasons for doing it at face value.

I'm afraid I see it differently. I think King has an agenda, and it's an agenda I don't agree with. I also don't think his stategy will be effective. I also think he risks frustrating some fans to the point that they lose some loyalty. Whether he cares about that or not, I don't know.

So, we disagree, and I'm comfortable with that.

I assume we will disagree in the future, and I look forward to debating you. I just hope that will be possible for us to disagree through our rapier wit, rather than moving into the realm of insults.

Mira said...


This seems to me to be an important disability issue.

For a publisher to have access to a format that accomodates a disability and NOT use that format may violate some laws.

You may want to check with a lawyer. Passive Guy at Passive Voice is a lawyer and indie publishing advocate. It might be worth an e-mail to him. He might know some referrals or which government oversight agency to contact if you want to follow up.

I hope you do. It's not okay to limit accessibility for those who are disabled.

Elle Casey said...

I love the covers. They're almost like movie trailers. Cool.

But, Joe, I think you misunderstood Stephen King's statement about people having to go out and buy the book. I think he meant "go to the store and buy the paperback style of book" versus "download an ebook to an ereader". How that ties into a statement about piracy I'll never know. You seem overly defensive in your interpretation. ?? In any case, I love your blog and all the info you share and appreciate your time very much. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I like the animated covers. One option to consider, and I'm sure your designer already knows this, is to have the animation cycle for a finite number of times (1? 3?) then stop, ending on the static cover image. It doesn't have to animate forever, and for those people who see it and say "Hey, did that cover just wink at me?" they can reload the page to see the animation again.

Whether we want to admit it or not, good covers sell books. It's an indicator that you, the author, cared enough about the book to get someone to do it right. IMHO, animation (when well-done, like the Origin cover) can be another extension of that.

Dan DeWitt said...

@ mira

Yes, I'm a King fan, but we could be having this discussion about an atrocious writer like Dan Brown (assuming he had a similar history to King's) and I'd argue the same points.

So King says why he's delaying the ebook release, but you don't believe him. And his history of promoting the ebook format more than any other major author beginning in 2000 and continuing to today is apparently irrelevant. As is his demonstrated history of appreciating his fans.

You obviously have a close enough relationship with him that has granted you some serious insight into his hopes and aspirations, so please tell me what you think his "agenda" is.

C. S. Hand said...

Constant reader, first time poster.

Love the animated covers; they scream "the future" and as a reader of such media I would feel like I'm finally getting close to a fuller, more delightful aesthetic experience.

Would you consider releasing a "normal" version with the still cover and then a deluxe version with both animated and still (kind of like DVD/Blu Ray normal product/collectors edition bifurcaiton?) Or go full tilt and just get rid of the still altogether? (Sorry if you mentioned this, I was reading and in between the exclamations just went ahead and jumped to the comments.)

I've also thought about animated images inside the books such as right below the chapter heading or to be used as divisions within a chapter instead of a still image or the ever popular asterisk which are chains that need to be broken from the old dead paper tradition.

El Escritor said...

You apparently have to be pretty darned special to get Carl Graves to answer your email. I've tried under three different pen names. As for "animated books" being the future? I don't buy that.

Max said...

Where is the animated cover? It didn't move for me. Am I dead or has my PC stopped? Another dumb question - what is to stop people scanning Mr King's paperback and uploading it? Or do they do that already?

Journalist on Call dot com said...

What is ethical? I am about to offer my non fiction book to literary agents to pitch to publishers. I have to write to dozens of agents because I can't wait 6 to 8 weeks to hear if one literary agent will respond or not. So if I get 4 agents expressing an interest, how do I select one. How do I find out which agent has access to the publishers that offer the most advance for a non fiction book? Do I have to be locked into one agent and forsake all others?


A. Yamina Collins said...

I am loving that book cover. I hope it is the wave of the future. I think it is. And Joe, if people or companies hadn't thought of this before, they have now, just because you wrote about it.

I think writers will soon be able to add videos to the front of their books, doing a reading of a chapter, or discussing some "making of" aspect of their book.

Do you think that's coming soon?

Shannon said...

I could see the animation on my Internet Explorer, but not on Firefox. I think this is the biggest negative with them at this point. In Firefox, I got a white box, Origin with no eyes at all, and a black box, in order down your post. Not exactly the way to sell books. In a few years, maybe the technology will be standardized enough to make them work, but right now, I don't think it is.

Joshua Gordon said...

At this moment, two of the three animated covers are non-functional on my iPad, where I do most of my browsing and my reading. I bet, I'm not the only one -- this problem and living most of my online life at this point on an iPad.

I can see some folks choosing to animate covers. But, most website designers now eschew animation of major elements for very sound reasons. Being distracting is at the top of the list.

As for myself, I view good cover design like good record cover design -- an art unto itself, when done right. I'll stick to static covers.

LC said...

Joe: You wrote...

"It's no secret that people judge books by their covers. The cover is the first thing a potential buyer sees, and if it is eye-catching, provocative, interesting, or compelling, it gets the reader to take a closer look."

While this assertion makes sense on an anecdotal level, do you know if there's any hard data supporting it? Even in this thread, there are a number of people who play variations on the "I don't pay attention to covers" theme.

I'm starting to lay the groundwork with my wife that I may be needing to make some expenditures soon to get a book published. When I mentioned cover art, she, too, said "I don't look at covers." She's a data-driven kind of gal; can you cite any studies that show how cover design affects purchasing behavior? Thanks.

Desmond X. Torres said...

Hi Joe:
As a new writer, I feel that I have two older brothers and a big sister. I'm the kid in the family, and we sort of still live at home.

The eldest brother, you know, the one in the family you don't really know as a person b/c he's so much further down the road than you.

Then your next older brother shows you stuff, beats you up, but generally is there for you.

The big sister's off to the side, doing her own thing, and dropping in every so often. When she opens her mouth, she's always damn right. Always. Damn. Right.

So that's my metaphor for my writing experience right now.

The eldest is King. He wrote On Writing, and though it, I was given enough to finally, finally after 54 years, Write The Damn Book.

Whoop dee doo. It's on a shelf, and it's staying there b/c it was too much me.

But it started the ball.

Since then, I've edited to the point of practically co-authoring two other books with my wife, and also wrote another book. E-pub and such, you know.

Now you- you're my 'next elder'. Though your blog posts, you smack me around, tell me smarten up, re-write re-write re-write when all I wanna do is show off my stuff.

Then you tell me to stay hopeful through the discipline, and point out the great life one can have at this insane game.

When you run outta gas, big sister steps in- Kristine Kathryrn Rusch- and points out a ton of stuff.

At the end of my encounters with the three of you; I'm always energized in one form or another about my new career. Either through writing, promoting, or learning.

Or, trying to help someebody else.

How'm I doing?

Thanks for taking the time