Twilight Of The Book Covers – Originality And It’s Cycles

This should probably be a Frustration Friday, but it's fresh in my mind and probably not ranty enough.

So I try and write my weekly posts at a bookstore.  It's fun yet I stay focused, I get to get out, and in general, the change of pace helps me.  So as I take a break, something strikes me that I've seen before, but hadn't thought about viscerally.

A LOT of book covers look like ripoff's of Twilight's stark black-background covers.  I mean a lot.

Sure some have a bit more color or some variant, but it's usually dark-background and object and that's it.  I don't even know if some of these books have anything to do with vampires or even fiction.  With some of the titles, for all I know, I'm seeing a very pretentious cookbook.

So this got me thinking about originality in the age of geekonomics.

Here's the odd thing with the high-tech area of the economy and media – games, television, webcast, boosk, etc.

First, it's very easy for groups of enthusiasts to come together, for people to share data, and for people to identify trends.

With the ease of this gathering and identifying-a-trend, it's also easier for people to mine data and figure, essentially, "hey what can I do to get a piece of this."

With technology of course people can make covers faster, deliver games faster, make a book faster.  So you can get derivative quickly – just ask the mad geniuses of The Asylum.

It's finally easy to get your dervative or original-yet-Twilight-like-cover product out faster because of – yes – technology.

In short, I think we've reached the stage where technology lets us all be unoriginal much, much faster than people experienced in the past.  You can decide that book needs to have a Twlighty style cover, wake up the cover artist, have them crack open photoshop, and get your new unoriginal cover in an evening.

I wonder if the speed of unoriginality means that, with people looking for their quick-derivative sales, if people will start craving more originality.  When all books look like twilight, more cartoons look like anime or flash animation, and too many games are the same old same old, are people going to get fed up quicker because there's so much unoriginality?

For that matter, then technology gives them the ability to search for original content or get it faster . . . but of course people can see the shifts in choices and then – you guessed it – start trying for knockoffs and derivatives of whatever is popular.

I wonder if, media and geekonomy wise, we're going to see an arms race of originality/unoriginality.  All I can see in the end is markets fragmenting into smaller groups (I think they already are) for games, manga, etc. and current techniques not being as useful.

So, what do you think?  WHen I see all those stark black covers and yet another video game set in World War II (or using zombies) I think we're gonna get tired of it at some point . . .

– Steven Savage