Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Cover Art Status and Preserving the Print Experience

Monster wearing a metallic mask

I continued working on my book cover illustration for “Circa Sixty Years Dead” all last week. I’ve been colouring it with coloured pencil and so was about to fill in the background sky. Then it occurred to me that I would probably have to replace that part with digital paint when it’s time to upload it to Amazon. I want the sky to have the realistic effect of a smooth, blue-black colour. Not only would that take too long to colour in with pencil but it would also require too much lead; I’m drawing this on 18-inch-by-24-inch paper. So, that will be the only digitally produced part of the illustration when the book is published. I try to stick to the original artistic experience as much as possible when publishing my art and books. In this case, that experience comes from paper, ink and coloured pencil. As hand-produced art stays closer to the artist’s creational act than does digitally produced art, print copies of books stay closer to the original copy than do e-copies.

I’m going to sound like I’m contradicting myself here because, while I’ve always been a believer in hand-produced art like I have in the importance of printed books, I admit that digital is needed in today’s marketing world. I’m first and foremost an artist and that includes writing. But I use marketing as a tool to sell my work and, like any tool, it’s used to get the job done easier—in this case, the job of selling books. As an indie/self-publishing author, I don’t have time to pencil a perfectly solid coloured sky and I’m not in the financial position to hire an artist. I thank God that I have a background in art!

I hate to say it, but this isn’t my only contradiction to art philosophy. I’ve said in past posts that I’m biased for print media. And so this very ebook project that I’m working on is a contradiction to my belief in the physical book being part of the art of storytelling. That’s why I had published The Fool's Illusion in both print and digital formats. I believe in preserving the printed word and so the physical aspect of storytelling and reading. But I also understand that there are people out there who either can’t always afford the print version or don’t want to carry extra bulk in their suit case, backpack or purse when on the go. I was able to provide both versions for Fool’s Illusion because it is a fool collect- ahem--excuse me--a full collection of short stories. I don’t think there would be many people out there willing to purchase a $5 book consisting of only an 8,630-word story.

So this release of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” will be limited to ebook form. However, if you are a print media nerd like me who believes in the sensual experience of reading, then please let me know that you would be willing to pay the larger price for a print edition of the story and I’ll see  about publishing it in that form as an option. But whatever happens, I will make sure “Circa” eventually reaches physical format: it will go into my next short story collection, The Hidden, which will be offered in print as well as ebook.

Speaking about print media, I came across a really neat New York Times article while surfing the ‘net the other day. It talks about advanced print technology preserving the printed word and image. Not only that, but it shows how the technology enhances the printed image with tactile effects, and so how it brings out the experience of the very world being portrayed. In this time when virtual reality is becoming the next big thing in computer technology and entertainment, print technology is helping to save the sensual aspect of literary and artistic culture. In a sense, it’s saving reality from the total dominance of virtual reality.

I’ll have more next week about the illustration and “Circa Sixty Years Dead”.

Until then . . .

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