How does the increasing use of online platforms for the purchase of books impact the role of the book cover?

Media and publishing futurist James Birdle of booktwo.org points to the changing role of the book cover as print media becomes more ephemeral –

“I say ephemeralisation rather than digitisation because it’s not just a physical transformation we’re going through, it’s a cognitive one,” Birdle notes.

Pointing to the increasing use of online platforms like Amazon for the purchase of books and print, Birdle points to the cover’s new role as often-blurry 120 pixel images that don’t actually cover anything at all. Where cover art once served to help sell physical books, they now serve as a signifier on a website – an icon to identify where to click to purchase the book, rather than a reason to purchase in itself.

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