Cover Art

by wjw on November 23, 2017


John Scalzi sent me the cover of the Italian edition of his novel The Collapsing Empire, which may look just a little bit familiar to you.  It uses the same piece of stock art (by Innovari) that I used for my own editions, ebook and paperback, of Angel Station.

Furthermore, I know of at least one other ebook that’s using that piece of art.

51bwlrksh9LAnd recently friend of the blog Etaoin Shrdlu pointed me in the direction of this cover, which might also look just a little familiar.

In fact the estimable Etaoin suggested that, in addition to inventing the genres of Sword and Singularity along with Rogues and Rogering, I’ve invented the genre of “novels with covers copycatting WJW’s VotW reissue”.  (I know of at least two.)

So what’s going on?

As I mentioned, this is stock art.  You can find stock art (along with stock photos, design elements, video, and animations) on many web sites,  downloadable for a small fee, for non-exclusive use.  I can use the art, and so can anyone else who pays the fee.  Rather than sell a piece of art once, the artist hopes to sell it many times and make a larger profit. Which makes good financial sense, particularly if you’ve created a piece of art useful for, say, PowerPoint.  Like, y’know, the stick figure guy standing next to the question mark.

Also, you can do many variations on the same concept, and thus appeal to a wider variety of tastes.  THRSTGMTPE1975

However, this practice wasn’t invented just for the internet.  Pieces of art keep reappearing, and move across borders with regularity.  Take for example this piece, for an American reissue of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K Dick.

If you look at the art closely, you will observe a desert, blue-eyed desert dwellers, wormlike tracks in the sand, and an ornithopter.  This was in fact originally the cover for a British edition of Dune. (I once owned both editions.  I was given the Dune under strangely metaphysical circumstances, possibly by Jesus himself, in a Greek bus station, a story I may relate here if suitably inspired.)

Apparently an American editor bought the art cheap, and figured it was as illustrative of Philip K Dick’s surreal world as anything.

9783453027879And check this one out.  It’s the cover, by Jim Burns, for the German edition of Hardwired, which rather mysteriously was retitled Hardware once it crossed the Rhine.  (You’d think that if they were going to use an English word, they’d use the original.)

I was told that this was the original British art for JG Ballard’s Crash, which makes a fair amount of sense, but I couldn’t find that edition anywhere online.  What I did find was this piece of art used as a board game cover for Games Workshop.  (Look like a fun game actually.)

Art is forever, apparently.  Which, come to think of it, is pretty good news.

Rusty November 24, 2017 at 9:27 am

A Google Image search shows at least five other e-books that have that cover you share with Scalzi (I only looked at the first 10 pages of results).

Etaoin Shrdlu December 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Oh my goodness! He mentioned my name! It’s right there on my screen! I’m not going to wash my screen for, like, forever!!!

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