Has the e-book killed cover art?

Before anybody yells at me and calls me Luddite, let me just say I have the tech and the streams, etc. BUT:

I still maintain that album cover art was A LOT better for records than it was for cds, and that liner notes were better (the ones for cds were basically micro printed and I hated them). CDs had better cover art than anything you can stream, though with streaming at least you get readable notes.

I’m starting to believe that e-books have killed off book cover art. There were some new editions of beloved classics in recent years with covers that made me shriek. But today I think I may have found the worst example ever.

Little backstory: I have decided that in 2023, I am going to reread Sci-Fi books that felt pretty life-changing the first time I read them. The first one I picked was Solaris by Stanislaus Len. I figured, well hell, that book is so old, there have to be paperback copies everywhere. I’ll just go grab one.

Google of course kept shoving me towards kindle versions on Amazon. I resisted. But then I discovered the monstrosity that is the currently marketed cover for the book, and I died inside a little. You see what I mean here in this little progression.

this is the first paperback cover. Pretty cool, suggests something important about the book.

I didn’t read this version. I read the following version, back when I was in high school in the 1980s, one summer, in between dodging my parents who wanted to me work (always best avoided) at various things.

Still good, right? This cover I found at Goodreads, and I think it’s damn good.

So when I go over to Barnes and Noble to look at their inventory for a new paperback copy, I don’t find much, but the site is pushing the e-book on me, but with this cover, oy to the vey God help us:

Ok, yes, a large part of novel is about the narrator being tormented by sad memories of lost love, but this….no. I know lots of people like the 2002 movie, but I don’t, and I REALLY think we do this book a disservice by giving it a romance novel cover.

Now, regular readers will know that I am perfectly happy reading trashy books. I have nothing against romance novels. But this is way not a romance novel. It’s not even a happy novel—Lem is Polish and the Poles didn’t have a ton of things to be happy about, and this novel, brilliant though it is, is not happy.

Am I just being an Oldy. McOldface or are other people bothered by this? The only explanation I have for it is that ebooks are a big part of the market, and nobody pays attention to ebook covers. I don’t. Do you? So why put in the time and money to get art done when nobody is looking?

I have told myself a dozen times that the cover doesn’t matter, that I should grow up and just deal with the kissy face cover.

But I may have found an old copy at the Independence public library, and I think I may just check out that one.