April 1st, 2009


The ReCovery Project*

I am happy to announce the creation of a new online service for book people - particularly geared towards science fiction and fantasy readers, though fans of other genres will surely find it helpful as well, I am sure.

We have all had - admit it, who of us hasn't? - the experience of That Sinking Feeling as we look at the cover art for a new edition of beloved book and realize that Whoa, wait, THAT's supposed to be WHO? GYAAAHGHHHH! MY EYES!! THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING!!! And while I have never found any evidence to support the claim that people choose not to buy books that they otherwise would (as opposed to being simply repelled in the first place), solely out of fear of the potential embarrassment factor from the cover art when spotted by other commuters while Reading On The Subway (this view was widely bruited about in the mid-90s, without any numbers to back it up, as an argument/explanation for the demi-trend of putting simple, non-representational covers on novels at the time) I also know that I am not the only one to resort to the solution of plain contact paper or other forms of hideous cover art camouflage to reduce the psychic trauma to myself and others from my chosen hobby.

And eventually the bibliophile-catering industry picked up on this and began offering plain cloth slipcases in attractive colours, ostensibly to protect the covers and jackets of the books being ported about - but we all knew that it was equally to protect our eyes against random viewings of the offenses against good taste and sanity which so many publishers so inexplicably perpetrate, particularly in certain genre realms...

But today, thanks to the marvels of POD technology, you don't have to be content with the blandness of calico contact paper, or that old schoolroom standby, ye Browne Papere Bagge cover, or even the more upscale fabric slipcase, in order to preserve your sanity and that of Innocent Bystanders from abominations like this or these - instead, you can create a replacement cover which is entirely appropriate and attractive as well, something that will not only not cause eyebleed, nor require emergency sporking of hapless passers-by caught in the blast range, but will even make people want to pick up the book and read it!

--Yes, the purpose of the ReCovery Project is twofold: just as the name of the initiative holds a double meaning, so too does it have a layered objective. Not only readers, but authors who have been traumatized by cover art that is not only hideous, but abysmally unrepresentative and thus actively repellent of customers, can make use of this service to correct the disproportionate and over-exposed anatomies, excessive use of foil stampage, and inadvisable tromp-l'oeil which publishers have inflicted on their creations!

The process is simple: at the ReCovery Project website, you will be able to select from a wide - but tasteful - variety of options for titling fonts, colors, background textures and royalty-free illustrations to generate a new book cover design for the title you wish to resurface. Once you have chosen the elements - and again, the design process is partially-guided, allowing for much variation and free-ranging tastes, but preventing choices which will result in eyebleed, such as neon green/magenta, or all-caps Arnold Boecklin, or ultracondensed sans-serif reverse type, or paisley-on-paisley - you will enter in the dimensions (h x w x spine thickness) and the incredibly-sophisticated software created for this endeavor will generate a new cover incorporating all of your selected elements, properly scaled and balanced in the space available.

This customized file can then be printed out on your home printer, or, for a reasonable fee, ordered from the ReCovery Project as a full-color, laminated piece on 10-point C1S stock (in the case of paperbacks) or on 80# C2S paper (for hardcover dustjackets.) A discreet advertisement for the Recovery Project will be placed on the back of each new cover, but there is plenty of room for you to type in your own copy - try your hand at writing blurbs!

There is also a social element to the ReCovery Project: once you have created your cover design, you may if you so desire, choose to submit it to the Sanitarium (our "gallery" area) where other readers can download it for their own copies of the same book, be inspired by your design skills, and vote on the best designs for a given title.

Feeling really ambitious? You can also upload your own illustrations and submit them for approval by a jury of ReCovery Project staff, if you are willing to release them for general use under our Creative Commons license. (You will, of course, receive full artistic credit on the cover, with your name printed as you have entered it, generated automatically by the ReCovery software tags, discreetly set in an elegant font and guaranteed to be completely legible!)

The ReCovery Project: because we can't help judging a book by its cover...but we can help the cover!

* No, this isn't strictly an April Fools' prank, I thought of it last night. But it would be more useful than many such "projects", imo...