The Cover That Never Was
We've reached that stage in the production process of my forthcoming book, Psychological Foundations of Marketing, that I always enjoy - the choice of a cover. Enjoy, yes, but not without a high level of trepidation. Based on my past experience, I would have to say that the design teams of major publishers often leave their creativity, imagination, and flair at the door and prefer to go with the tired and true once they sit down at the drawing board. I think I lucked out for the cover of Connecting With Consumers: Marketing for New Marketplace Realities, probably the only cover of my eight books that I actually like. And I like it a lot. Fortunately, my editors at Oxford University Press and I worked together to come up with a cover that we believed reflected the book's content, while maintaining a certain degree of originality in the category.
Originally, my new publishers, Routledge/Taylor & Francis came to me with a couple concepts that I quickly rejected - one theme featuring one or more shopping bags and the other showing someone sitting in front of a bank of TVs. They struck me as unoriginal and uninformative. One month later, despite my initial reservations, they came back to me with four cover mockups of the same two original ideas, with the intent to run with the TV banks cover you see below.
I can't quite explain why the production people at T&F fell in love with this cover. Granted, it's not a bad looking or poorly designed cover, and I could picture it blending into - and getting lost in the process - the array of other academic and professional books on the shelf in greater bookstores throughout the land. But I hated this cover for several reasons, perhaps mostly because it had little, if anything to do with the book's content, which, as the title suggests, delves into the psychology of consumer behavior and marketing efforts. An anonymous figure sitting passively in front of a bank of TVs might indeed be the ideal cover for a book on mass media communications circa 1970/80s, but that is not what my book is or intends to be. When I pointed this out, one member of the T&F team responded that the image shows someone being directly marketed to in a competitive global marketplace characterized by advertising saturation. To which I pondered, what exactly is Fred Flintstone marketing?
But what really irked me about this cover is that it belies one of the basic points of my previous book - and this corresponding website: that we no longer live in an age in which people are passively sitting in front of television screens, waiting to be marketed to. I was perplexed as to how anyone could believe that a cover with multiple TVs reflects anything about the contemporary world, psychology, or marketing. So, true to the Connecting With Consumers philosophy, I suggested that I post a call for covers from enterprising designers in cyberspace and offer some sort of monetary prize for best cover idea.
Well, given their rush to deadline, T&F nixed the crowdsourcing idea, but I nonetheless am happy to report that they did give me 24 hours to come up with a better idea - actually, three ideas - drawing from two stock photo sites that they already had agreements with. I'm no designer, but it didn't take me long to come up with about 15 ideas, all of which I thought, if I say so myself, were more appropriate for the new book than the TV motif above. (The last image below of the shopping mall, unfortunately, would have required a time-consuming permission request.) Two made it to the final cut and have the professional typography (see the first two below). I faked the title and author typography on some representative other candidates below.
So, which cover is the winner? Sorry, I don't want to ruin the surprise, there's time for that.
I can say that it is not any of the covers you see below.