Skip to main content

Kindle Cover Disasters validates the existence of Tumblr, self-publishing

Kindle Cover Disasters validates the existence of Tumblr, self-publishing

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Just like nobody can hear you scream in space, nobody can see what book you're reading on your Kindle. It's one of the reasons 50 Shades of Grey blew up. Who knew that letting readers ingest their BDSM fiction nearly anywhere, sans public shaming, would catch on? E. L. James, that's who. Yet, even with thousands and thousands of words (and a plot), authors still need a cover; not only so it will look nice on digital bookshelves, but also to help legitimize their work when you're holding your mouse over that buy button. Thanks to the brave new(ish) world that is digital self-publishing, self-designed book covers exist without any committees or publishers to say no, or ask "why does that man have the head of a horse?" And so Kindle Cover Disasters was born.

"How hard can it be?"

The Tumblr blog, which was spotted by The Guardian, is a compendium of bad Photochops, misguided ideas, and what might be viewed during other times in human history as fine art, all in the form of self-published books on Amazon. "It is the hubris of it that people get a kick out of," the blog's anonymous curator told The Guardian. "The devil-may-care attitude of an author, who, with zero arts training, says to themselves: ‘How hard can it be?'"

Amazon book cover

From the looks of things — not hard enough.

Don't get me wrong though. There is a kind of wonderful unprofessionalism about it that actually ends up drawing you in. Perhaps that wasn't the original intent of Rhys Hughes' "Young Tales of the Old Cosmos" in which illustrator Gonzalo Canedo has impregnated human faces onto celestial bodies. But now I have to know: is there a love triangle between these three moons? Nevermind. Have my 99 cents, and I will make my own discoveries.

These creations exist in part because Amazon's guidelines for book covers are delightfully lax. You can upload just about anything, though the company encourages authors to err on the side of caution. "A book is judged by its cover!" the company suggests to self-publishers. "The image you use for your cover will be a focal point of your design, so choose carefully."