It was an observation made by Jessi which got me thinking about the cover designs for my Kindle editions. I know that if I could afford to, I'd hire an agency able to deliver graphics as eye-catching as those created for the books by Chris Brookmyre. But then that's only a reflection of my personal aesthetic preferences. I well remember the cover of Quite Ugly One Morning screaming at me from the display in my favourite Cologne bookshop in the late nineties!
The problem I think I've identified is that the typical key art for ebooks still relies on the legacy of paperback cover design. But a visual that works well on a 13 x 20 centimetre trade paperback is not necessarily suited to a Kindle thumbnail. There is the challenge of combining at least three different (and even competing) messages in a mini-format piece of artwork... author name, book title and a mood setting visual.
If we must accept the size constraint and live with Amazon's need to confront us with many choices as possible then we need to forget about the precedents from 'booky book' publishing. One answer could be animated GIFs as an alternative to a single static cover design. I think even Amazon would benefit from a 'suggestions' page with each of the editions on offer grabbing the customer's attention with a dynamic call-to-action.
Muse on this idea as Bo Diddley reminds that 'you can't judge a book by looking at the cover'...