Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!
Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns – Books & Blogs
Today is all about aesthetics! The first part of this topic is concerned specifically with the books, the second with our blogs. Here are some guiding questions to get you started!
The Books: How often do you judge a book by its cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?
The Blog: As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the “brand” of your blog – something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all your various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?
The Books: 97% of the books I read these days are in some sort of electronic format, so I rarely see the cover until I’m scrolling through at the end for publication info to write my review. I’ll admit I’m sometimes surprised to find a really excellent book with a sub-par cover . . . I suppose I’d prefer just a title page to a clip-art style DIY cover: If I’d seen the covers of the books first, I’d have passed right over them.
I’m reminded of a self-published book I read a few years ago. I won’t mention the title, but it was clear the author didn’t value artwork as much as his prose. Not only was his cover art a shoddy clip-art image printed on a home printer, but he also included a picture of sand in the body of the book. Yes, you read that correctly. No, it wasn’t a picture of the desert. It was honestly, literally a Google-searched picture of SAND.
So yes. Cover art is important. I think the words themselves are MORE important, but I am guilty nonetheless of sometimes judging a book by its cover (and I heartily apologize for the cliche).
The Blog: Chrissy and I are always thinking about branding. Whether it’s the graphics we’ll need for a new feature or simply a new reviewer’s signature, it’s a big part of our blogging. I’d say the biggest struggle we have is finding an appropriate color balance. We love the subtle, pastel colors our designer uses, but we often wonder if we’re not alienating certain readers because our design choices are too, well, feminine. The majority of our readers are indeed female, but without, you know, a marketing division, we don’t know if that’s because more females are interested in our content or because our page design has tiny cartoon versions of us sitting on big pink armchairs.
We’ve been trying to subtly shift our color scheme to a more gender-neutral one. We recently added a new feature with graphics in the same color family but with a warmer tone, but changing over the blog style completely is a huge task, and we’re taking it slowly. We also added our first male reviewer this year, so the changes will keep coming. For the record, though, we’re super glad Jeff hasn’t complained about the pink in his signature graphic. Thanks, Jeff! We’re working on it.