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Why Do So Many Book Covers Look the Same? Blame Getty Images

Eye on Design – Meet the cast of stock image characters that grace dozens of book covers – “…The book cover design world, it turns out, has something of an all-star squad of stock and archival image that show up on book covers time and time again. James Morrison, an editor, designer, and avid reader who lives in Adelaide, Australia, has been tracking the squad for about two decades. “I think the first one I spotted was a photo called, ‘Man in Fog,’ from 1935, by Arthur Tanner,” Morrison says…While a dozen or so books featuring the same image may look jarring lined up together in an online photo, that’s less likely to happen on a store shelf. Take a closer look at the set of novels that feature Matthias Clamer’s photograph, and the titles rarely share the same language. There’s English, French, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, and German. A rights-managed stock image license can come with territorial exclusivity if you’re willing to pony up for it. “People buy the usage,” Clamer said. “Depending on all the figures, they determine the usage price. If you are an uber-famous author, and you’re going to sell 3 million copies and it’s going to be worldwide and it’s going to be in 24 languages, then they ask for more money. But if it’s an unknown author and some random book in Poland, it’s cheap…”

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