CBS Sunday Morning is one of my favorite programs each week. Yesterday, one of the segments was "Book Covers Uncovered" which showed many great book covers that have become iconic. One that I remember especially from the program was the cover for Jaws. The image on the cover became the unforgettable movie symbol that people remember. From my Google search, I found there were several different cover versions, but one stands out from the array of covers shown. Take a look.
Jurassic Park is another book with an iconic symbol on the cover. If I remember correctly (I wasn't taking notes), the dinosaur symbol was intentionally chosen for future branding. What a great idea! Thinking about future promotion when deciding on the right cover for your book.
When considering iconic imagery, I think of the Starship Enterprise which is on many of the Star Trek books. We see that image and immediately think of Star Trek--the TV series, movies, toys, and so much more.When I see Alex Cavanaugh's book cover for CassaStar, I admire the space ship imagery he has selected and expect it to become iconic.
Sometimes items of clothing appear prominently on book covers. One in particular that stands out is a high heel shoe. That may denote "chick lit" to the reader. A weapon on the cover usually leads a reader to expect a murder mystery or suspense novel. The cover designer for my book, Dangerous Hearts, first put a knife on my cover. Since I dislike knives, I asked her to remove it. She replaced it with a couple which indicates romance. Perhaps I shouldn't have changed the sinister look of the knife. That symbol would have signaled murder mystery which the book is more so than a romance.
More than anything else, the lesson for me from the CBS program was that covers are more important than we think--even for e-books. We, as writers, should plan carefully what we want on our covers. Our iconic symbols might be around for a very long time!