I like #2 the best although the color should be brighter...like green for money or something. the dull color doesn't maximize the artistic contribution...
Cover #2 is obviously the more eye-catching of the two.
I particularly like the way the "For Sale" sign has been used in the cover.
However, having said that, $300. is an awful lot of money to spend on something when it is mainly (only?) the spine which will be seen on any bookstore shelves.
Personally, I wouldn't spend the extra three hundred.
I voted for #2 because there are so many books out there, if yours can catch someone's eye, it has a better chance of someone picking it up and looking through it.
However, I also realize that what someone can afford has much to do with what they will purchase. If it is not in Tony's budget for the extra expense of the fancier cover, then it is not a possibility for him in the first place and not even a subject for a vote.
The glitzy cover is more impressive to the eye initially, but the subject matter and contents of a book are the most important ingredients. Today, hardcover books on a bricks and mortar store display, show most books by its spine, whose narrow space leave little room for wide, colorful images spread out on a typical front cover.
This may change with virtual displays of book front and back covers online, but the enduring importance of subject and content will ultimately prevail for discerning readers, underwhelmed by shallow, quick flashes of ostentatious, blaring images that may impress the designers more that thinking readers.
Such slick marketing contain the seeds of its own demise when it promotes mediocre stories with high gloss and disappointing content. It sacrifices the outer perception to the inner reality and is self-defeating in the long run. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Author unknown to me.
I doubt that you'll show this comment to the prospective author, because it will not likely enhance your marketing and sales efforts or service.
Anyway, that's my view.
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