There has long raged a debate about the quality of UK vs. US cover art and the different ideals behind design aesthetics in the two regions. In general, fans seem to consider the UK to be the stronger market, and for a long time they were, but it’s my feeling that in the past couple of years, thanks to publishers like Tor, Night Shade Books, Pyr Books and Orbit Books, that the US has eclipsed the UK and is generating much more interesting cover art in general. Hurley herself said, “I am told the UK market is way more stuck-up about their covers. I adore my Conan covers, but $1 says the more mainstreamy-cover sells more books.”
If this is a ‘mainstreamy’ cover, I’m not sure I like where Del Rey UK is taking the series. Still, It’s nice to see Hurley seeing a release from a major publisher. What some people might not know is that Del Rey was originally meant to publish Hurley in the US, first picking up her novel, God’s War, before, for a variety of reasons that I’m not clear on, deciding to let Hurley and the series go. It, and its edits, were then picked up by Night Shade Books.
Later in the conversation, Hurley revealed that eBooks make up 50% of her total sales, and Teresa Frohock, a fellow Night Shade Books author, revealed that a whopping 70% of her sales are eBooks. This suggests that this argument about book covers will change, or even become moot, as eBook sales, which seem less dependant on cover art and more dependant on word-of-mouth and active marketing by their authors, continue to eat up a larger share of the market. To balance that discussion, however, one reader pointed that before now Hurley’s novels were not available outside of North America, suggesting that non-US and -Canadian readers might have been turning to eBooks when they otherwise would purchase this UK edition. These are important factors to consider when contemplating Bradley P. Beaulieu’s recent departure from Night Shade Books and his announcement that he will be completely self-publishing his eBooks going forward. Also worth considering, Elspeth Cooper and Mazarkis Williams both revealed that eBooks count for less than 10% of their sales, a stark contrast to the earlier reported numbers and a reminder that cover art still plays an important role in the bookselling business… for now.
Hurley indicated to me that we might hear some news regarding her eBooks in the near future. In the meantime, Hurley’s trilogy, the Bel Dame Apocrypha is available now from Night Shade Books.