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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 12:32 am:   

Bob Kruger (of ElectricStory fame) is developing our new (and long overdue) website. It's not quite done yet, but you can take a peek at:

http://www.electricstory-test.com/

We'd love to hear any feedback on it.
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John Picacio
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 07:32 am:   

A suggestion that I've made before and I'll say again and again....

You should make every effort to make sure that illustrators are credited for their cover art on your website when you use their work to promote your books. It doesn't have to be in big, bold neon letters, but that information should be stated every single time (whether in print or on the web) when you use those images....something as simple as Cover illustration by "blank". Not that hard, is it?

Your website as well as your print advertisements consistently fail to at least credit the cover illustrators for their artwork that you're using. And this new website is no different.

It's a big problem. How much ethical and logical sense does it make to print author's stories without crediting them for their work? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? So why is it no less ridiculous to credit the illustrator for his/her work, when you're using it to promote your products?

If nothing else, fellas, it gives the consumer more information to make purchase decisions and can only help you make more sales and money. That's never a bad thing, is it? So why not do it? That lack of consideration just never makes sense to me.

You asked for feedback, so that's my big suggestion. :-)
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Neil C.
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 09:09 am:   

Very attractive, but I have a problem with the book detail page. I don't like having the description crammed into that tiny column.

-Neil
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 10:30 am:   

I just paged through two issues of Locus that happened to be sitting next to my desk. I was unable to find a single advertisement that credited the jacket artist. Not from Baen, not from Tor, Ace, Bantam....
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 10:31 am:   

Neil,

Yeah, I've been having the same problem myself. Not sure if we need to rearrange the page, or just use a smaller jacket photo.
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 11:45 am:   

"I just paged through two issues of Locus that happened to be sitting next to my desk. I was unable to find a single advertisement that credited the jacket artist. Not from Baen, not from Tor, Ace, Bantam.... "

You're right, and that's a problem. There are a lot of instances where the artist's name is not even printed on the cover itself or in the book, and I've got no idea who made the art.
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Jetse
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 12:21 pm:   

"I just paged through two issues of Locus that happened to be sitting next to my desk. I was unable to find a single advertisement that credited the jacket artist. Not from Baen, not from Tor, Ace, Bantam.... "

So if big publishers have certain bad practices, this means that smaller ones like Night Shade Books should copy those?

Also a few random checks from my bookdesk shows that Gollancz, Ministry of Whimsy, Vintage, RoC and MacMillan do indeed credit the jacket artist.

I'm with John Picacio: credit the artist.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 06:01 pm:   

I agree with Neil that the column is too small. I think you should just use a smaller jacket photo, but link the jacket photo to a larger image if people want to see it in more detail (like on Amazon).

Other than that, I quite liked the look of the site.

In regards to the artists/credit controversy -- I don't see how it could hurt crediting the artist, but I don't see how it would influence my decision of whether or not to buy the book either. Though you mention Locus -- the ads in Locus might not reference the cover artist, but many of the reviews *do* say who did the cover art.

I think the artist should be credited inside the book, certainly, but I don't know that it helps much in advertising in print or the web. I know I've seen books that have engaging covers and I wondered who the artist was (if only to confirm my suspicions that it was by a particular artist), and have been thwarted by the lack of info inside the book.
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 06:57 pm:   

"but I don't see how it would influence my decision of whether or not to buy the book either."

I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more of an issue for the artists to get recognition for their work.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 08:02 pm:   

This whole issue is pissing me off, to be frank.

As I've told John in the past, I have no problem crediting the artist on the website. However, it's one of a million things that need doing around here, and as I told him, it'll get done when it gets done. Hell, most of our pages are put up when the book is announced (and we have no idea who the artist will be) and updated rarely after that. Look at the pages for The Ancient Track or The Course of the Heart. We're two fucking people here, and some things take priority over others.

My point was that of all the publishers not crediting artists in print ads, why is John jumping on me? I do maybe one print ad a year, if that. Why not jump on Tor, who has print ads is most genre magazines, every single month?

And to compare the author of the book and the artist who illustrated the jacket is simply dumb, and an insult to the author. The illustrator is hired to help promote the book. But they did not write the book. I'm publishing a book by the author, with a jacket by John to help get attention. I'm not publishing a book with John's art, and using the stories to get attention to John's art. The fact that I have to point this out just shows the skew of John's perspective.

And, just to be clear, we do credit the artist. Just not on the print ads (nor will we ever), and not currently on the site because I simply haven't had the time. They get credit in the book and on the jacket.

"I don't think that's the issue. I think it's more of an issue for the artists to get recognition for their work."

They do get recognition. They are credited in the book. They get a check. And if I'm happy with them, I tell all of my publishing friends about them, as John can attest.

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Kage Baker
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 08:26 pm:   

Er-- gosh, Jason, I love my picture! Takes years off me! And it makes me look like a blonde, too!

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John Picacio
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 08:53 pm:   

Thanks for everyone's input regarding the subject of the crediting of illustrators for their work. I didn't anticipate that, but the feedback was educational.

Jason, I'm disappointed with your skewing of this discussion. You've removed it from a logical discussion into an emotional one, and that wasn't my intention at all. You asked for feedback on your website, and so I offered a professional suggestion that I thought would help both parties. It wasn't a remark made in anger, but in the spirit of constructive progress (same as it ever was).

Your overreaction is unfortunate.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 05:46 am:   

For what it's worth, I've added illustrator information to the new site. The whole point of paying someone to develop a new site was making updating it orders of magnitude easier. I have a tool for doing it, instead of having to manually edit a dozen html pages everytime I need to change something.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 05:51 am:   

Regarding the image size: Is this better?

http://www.electricstory-test.com/book.aspx?bookid=2
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 06:18 am:   

How about something more like this?

\image
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 06:19 am:   

Er, like this?

web image
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 07:44 am:   

I like that. I had written a message about the staggering of the story list and then went to a meeting. Came back, message not posted, decided to look at board and saw this. I think I like a bigger image, but I know that not everyone has fast connections, etc. and you could always have an area of larger cover images if you click on the image. You could make the ALT= in the IMG tag have the title and artist's name in it, too. Just something else to think about. ;)

JK
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 08:06 am:   

Is that "Mike" Dringenberg, comic book artist? I've never seen his first name as "Micheal"--or even "Michael" --is that a typo?
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 08:49 am:   

That would be a typo. And I'm just used to using full names for attribution. Whoops.

And yes, it's Mike Dringenberg, the comic book artist. He's also doing Bold as Love for us.
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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 09:13 am:   

I like the new format quite a bit. Easier on the eyes, and it's good to have cover thumbnails next to the book title.

But I notice that Engelbrecht Again is not listed there. :-(
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Jim Rockhill
Posted on Friday, June 18, 2004 - 10:20 pm:   

I like the look of the new site, and appreciate seeing the artist credits.

Jim
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, June 21, 2004 - 08:45 am:   

What Jim said. When I seen an interesting cover or illustration I'm always curious as to who the artist was. The credit makes things much easier.
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Andrew Fuller
Posted on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 12:35 am:   

Site's looking good. I like the fluid, resizability.

Yes, clickable thumbnails are a simple way to add so much appeal for a potential buyer. And yes, credit the cover artist, freaks like me actually look for that sometimes.

Left column could be less intrusive. Book search and email register could be a subtle column color, differentiate between main content a little bit. These are common features, familiar to many web visitors, so you can cheat on the size somewhat... looks like the text entry on email register could be shorter.

Little details you might be considering/if you have time:

add to cart button

table columns instead of embedded table so contents description doesn't wrap around hardcover etc (like on Things That Never Happen page)

play with stylesheets, you could italicize/reduce quotes, hardback info, increase the title -- altho web typography offers less control, any contrast between different types of content can make the presentation all the more professional

This is a tender one, I'm sure... is this the Night Shade logo? A vertical logo is always tough to fit into a masthead. If you're not confined by an existing design, uou can promote yourselves more, if you want.

These are just quick graphic design/web design interface basics I noticed. My intention is not to be terse, Jason. Shoot me an email if you'd like me to elaborate, or to shut up.

www.owlsoup.com
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 06:25 am:   

Hey! The new site is up. The only problem, on the discussion board the funky gray bar cuts across text and makes it difficult to read. Also, a 5px margin or something like that would be nice as the text goes to the extreme edges of the site, which is also hard to read. The gray decorative bar is fine for the rest of the site, but on the discussion board, it repeats itself and runs right over the top of stuff.

JK
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DesertJo
Posted on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:06 pm:   

i like the new site... catalog viewing and product ordering are simpler.

one minor nitpick: the Address 2 line doesn't get saved, and i tried adding it several times after the first time.

also, you've still got the old shipping information listed on the contact page :-)
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Bob K.
Posted on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:31 pm:   

What do you mean about the address not being saved, Jo? I'm not having that problem. You can write me at rpk@electricstory.com if you want.

Thanks,

Bob Kruger
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Bob K.
Posted on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 07:40 pm:   

Actually, I found a display error on the manageaddresses page on the second address field. It should be fixed now.

--Bob
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DesertJo
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 01:51 pm:   

cool... works now!

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