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Which Cover Do You Prefer?

Mostly_white_2 Caped_man_2

I'm not a big proponent of focus groups, but I'd still like your opinion on these two cover images.  We have a title called Blogging Heroes that's coming out in the not too distant future. It's by Michael A. Banks and it features wisdom and wit from some of the world's most successful bloggers, how they got to the top of the rankings and recommendations they have for the rest of us.

We've narrowed our cover designs to the two you see in this post.  The one on the left is more humorous and the one on the right is more traditional, if you will.  What we're finding internally is that you generally love one of these and don't care for the other, but the opinions are split almost 50-50 between the two.

So which cover do you prefer?  If you were browsing the bookstore, in person or online, does one of these jump out at you more than the other?  I assume that since you're reading this blog you'd be interested in what these blogging heroes have to say, so you're definitely part of the target audience.

Let us know.  Either add a comment to this post or, if you're too shy for that, send me an e-mail with your thoughts.  I can't promise you that we'll go with the majority vote on this.  I also want to note that we may go one way initially and then change our minds and go another way wouldn't be the first time we switched cover designs partway through the schedule!

Finally, keep in mind that these are rough mock-ups at this point.  For example, the image of the caped office hero on the left is just one of several from a few different image providers that we're currently considering.  It's not so much about that particular image as it is about comparing the tongue-in-cheek approach vs. the other one.

Our goal is to make a final selection in the next couple of days.  As a result, if you want to be heard on this, please add your comment or e-mail me by the end of the day tomorrow, 7/10.

P.S. -- As you look closely at these covers (and Amazon's description), please keep in mind that the list of heroes is ever-changing!  Much of the work is already completed but each week Michael comes up with a new addition to take the place of someone else who may have been too busy to participate in the project.  Consider the list of names nothing more than placeholders for now...



As much as I like the use of photography I prefer the text only design. 1.) The photo is too corporate and silly at the same time. 2.) The Hero outfit is more disturbing than cool. The text version seems to convey the nuisances of blogging better and makes me want to take it seriously.

K.G. Schneider

I prefer the text version (although I find it too plain) for one simple reason: the "hero" character is...I shoot: his ah, "package" is the focal point. I mean, nobody's THAT heroic. Plus it adds an unintentional layer of message that to be a blogging hero is to be an (impossibly overendowed) male. To which I so badly want to scribble on the logo, "You wish."

Tongue-in-cheek would work for me... depending on the size of the tongue, that is (just remember, you *started it*).


I also prefer the text and agree that the photo is slightly disturbing.

Seems like the market would anyone who might want to become a blogging "superhero." Of course if your target market is men who wear a yellow speedos over their suits then go with the photo.

noah kagan

Is there really a question? Imagery always exceeds words.

ps. in case you couldn't tell, I love the one with the cape.


I don't like the photo. It really looks disturbing and would turn me off from buying the book, or displaying it on my shelf when done reading.

johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy)

As is, the text copy is too uninteresting.

As is, the photo is too disturbing.

But if you deleted the Cameo-like "cod piece" from the Blogging Hero photo, it would go from disturbing to intriguing.


The cover with the tag cloud works for me; it speaks more to the topic.

The guy with the cape has me thinking he's into freaky p0rn while washing dishes. It's... icky. If I can get by that, it's just out of place in the board room/meeting room. There's nothing on that cover that says "technology" to me. Were he standing on top of a monitor, I might feel differently, but as it is, it just seems out of place.

Austin Storm

I agree with the other commenters that my first thought about the "Hero" design was how scarring the underwear was. But I prefer some variation on the Hero design to the other, which is very boring and I don't think I would pick it up. It looks like the sort of design that is begging to be remaindered.


I like the text-based design better. I agree with the others that the photo is just too silly. The text design is quite nice. I like the "tag cloud", which really picks up on an element common to blogging. Also, it makes the book (and blogging) seem more serious.

Andrea Mercado

I think the photo cover would be fine without the weird yellow undies. Oh, hey, and red gloves to match the cape, to keep it connected to the theme. And maybe even a little super hero logo on the tie as a tie pin or something.

You know, if you have time/money/approval for a reshoot.

Otherwise, the text cover is too texty, and not indicative enough of the actual *people* behind the text. To me, that's an important point to make here.


The text copy is far too boring. Which leaves the one with the picture. But that is pretty awful, especially his knickers!
I don't think either cover will sell the book -- back to the drawing board. I like the title, though. How about a picture of a Greek or Roman hero, classical style?


I'd go with the text based cover.


Can we have a 3rd option? The text copy is nice and professional but it is also boring and bland. The photo cover caught my eye first but the actual image is a little odd.

Kathryn Greenhill

What Fred said.

Morgan Ramsay

I would advocate moving in the direction of the photographic cover. That cover focuses on a unique, understandable message conveyed by identifiable and comedic imagery whereas the textual cover is simply an example of information overload and what not to do. The textual cover is also plain white, making the cover hard to see on (a criticism you've made of another publisher's book cover), and the cover also uses soft colors and thus is not impacting or memorable.

The photographic cover could use a lot of work though. The author's name should not be placed at the top unless he is an A-list author (i.e., a selling point.) The image should be extended to all four corners of the cover, replacing the white. With the image as the background, the title should be capitalized and colored or whitened. The model should look more "average" and wear a better, more complementary costume (i.e., the red-yellow combination is jarring and reminiscent of ketchup and mustard, and the cape is too much of a Poor Man's Cape.) A cast of superhero office workers in action poses, perhaps battling a cast of supervillains, in the middle of a crowd of onlookers would be ideal. The subtitle is also generic and categorical. I would opt for an attractive and creative subtitle without numbers, and I'd get rid of the decorative []s encasing the subtitle as they are unnecessary and distracting.

K.G. Schneider

I'll go ahead and say it, since I've been thinking it: if you do the superhero thing, can you make a man and a woman standing side by side, their capes flapping in the breeze (and no padded codpieces or Dolly Parton bosoms, please)?

What's with the boardroom background for that, anyway? A cubicle or home office... or Starbucks... would be more realistic..!

Steve Weber

I like the cover with the photograph. I'd like it more if the background (windows and furniture) was deleted.

The text cover is fine, and makes perfect sense to those of us who know about blogs and tag clouds. But I think most people react more to a cover with an image, especially of a person.


Neither cover works for me. The text cover has nothing special going on, while the photo cover is weirdly inappropriate with its corporate setting, something a lot of bloggers are trying to escape from. Better would be a guy in his bathrobe, as this is more the blogger's fantasy of independence -- you can put a super S on the bathrobe if you like.


I think you could use the superhero but in a slightly different context: maybe in the middle of a hurricane, inferno or flood, at the edge of a roof or in front of a firing squad...peer closely and you will see him - the tiny superhero (in his yellow underpants) leaning over his keyboard, lit by the light of his computer monitor still blogging away.

Michael Miller

Interesting responses. Like most, I find the photographic cover to be well intentioned but wrong, especially the corporate background. The text cover is fine, if a tad boring. A good compromise would be to add the superhero image from the first cover to the background of the second -- not as a straight photo, but Photoshopped into actual comic-book style artwork. (Easy enough to do.) Not as a dominant image, perhaps, but more in the background, with the text over it. (And if you do that, ditch the guy's corporate dress, also.)

Lucas Wilk

I prefer the photo concept for the same reasons a few others have pointed out, but I certainly do not advocate going with that photo!


I prefer the text one because thru its simplicity it portrays more of the content of the book and will distinguish itself more at the bookstore. Amid all the pictures in the covers of other titles, one with plenty of white space and type that shouts blog and web 2.0 will be noticed more. And you don't have to flip the book or even open it to see some of the authors that may interest you. Besides with a superhero image, as others have said you may alienate half of the audience and could be a bit towards to geeky side. That said, however, the text cover could use some more color, maybe a border or thick lines to give it depth, and could even include a cartoonish superhero as other reader suggested to give it a less serious look (how about Underdog?). Good luck.

Joe Wikert

Wow. This is more feedback than I ever thought we'd get on this. I also got a few e-mails from folks who didn't want to publicize their input.

The results? As you can see, quite a few people didn't like the cover with the photograph. Then again, several didn't like the other cover. Then there are those who didn't like either one. A few people offered suggestions on how to improve one or both of the covers and one person even noted how we could splice the two together (thanks Mike!).

See how hard this is? I'm starting to have a better appreciation for the job our designers do. They get feedback like this from several people on just about every cover they create.

I prefer the white/text-based cover. I chuckled when I first saw the other one, but I'm not convinced it offers much beyond the initial shock value. I have to admit that I'm also biased because I've seen so many other simple, white covers do so well recently (e.g., The Black Swan, The Tipping Point, Fooled By Randomness, Blink, etc.) Then again, one could argue those books have been successful because of the author platforms and that any cover would have worked just fine for them...

I certainly didn't expect to reach a consensus with this blog post and your comments are similar to ones we've heard internally at the office. As I mentioned in the original post, I can't guarantee we'll follow your suggestions on this. Actually, if we tried we'd wind up with some sort of all black cover like the Spinal Tap album! These comments have given us something to think about, so stay tuned to see where it leads...the book publishes this Fall.

Stephen Tiano

See, I don't find the text cover boring at all. I find the photo cover a little silly. It doesn't invite me into the book, which I think of as the first job a book cover should do. There's a disconnect between the superhero outfit, which suggests comic book, and what I assume is the more serious subject of citizen journalism and how a number of bloggers have gotten to be important reads.

From an aesthetic point of view the text cover uses negative space well. That, and its limited accent of color would draw my eyes to the cover from across a room or across a bookstore.

Stephen Tiano, Book Designer, Page Compositor & Layout Artist

mark long

For what it's worth, I like the text version of the cover as opposed to the photograph.

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