Craig Mod has another great essay on his site regarding covers in ebooks.
There is symmetry of loss shared among all physical media as it shifts digital. The ever shrinking book cover parallels the long, slow compression of music jackets. The designers of records must have felt a similar sense of constriction with cassettes and then CDs and now Rdio/iTunes thumbnails. So much lost canvas.
He does not, however, focus on doom & gloom for the publishing industry. Instead he gives great examples of publishers who embrace the constraints of digital media. One of my favorite points was his analysis of Frank Chimero’s The Shape of Design.
Jump into Frank’s ebook willy-nilly – any of these chapter opening images could be a cover. He has, on the most base level ’ within the constraints of our current ebook systems ’ distributed the cover throughout his entire book.
Mod’s attitude of embracing change is an asset that would serve any designer or publisher well.