Sometimes I feel that these things can be too direct and obvious. In this case, I'll make an exception because there's really no other way to say it. Since the early 2000s, Pocket Book's Star Trek line has been declining in terms of story quality, release frequency, and, as I mentioned not-so-artfully, the artwork on the cover is mostly terrible. These bland, font-deprived, Photoshopped covers do nothing to attract readers. They are clearly just screen clips or publicity shots that have been modified.
It seems like I've written about this issue before. It's disappointing that while there are occasional improvements, most of the infrequent releases of Trek books go back to using Photoshop.
Let's take a look at two upcoming books in 2024:
The cover for the upcoming movie-era novel, Star Trek: "Lost to Eternity," features headshots likely from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the Enterprise-A, likely from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. However, it uses them in a way that stands out and doesn't look copied and pasted. Plus, we get fan-favorite Lt. Saavik. It takes us back to an era (featured in the DC Trek comics in the 90s) set between Star Trek V and Star Trek VI. I'm not a fan of the vertical Star Trek wordmark, but at least it's a decent piece of art that uses the right font. This book will be available in late July 2024.
The second example, Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Pliable Truths," fails miserably. Scheduled for a May release, the story is set in the TNG TV era, just before DS9's first season, which sounds interesting. But then we see the cover. What is that? Horrible Photoshopping and bad character selection. Slap on a filter and voila, we have a cover. Please never use that filter again. Picard is fine as he probably fits well into the story. Garak, maybe, but is he really going to sell the story? According to the synopsis, Ro Laren is also in this book. Why not include her following her big debut in Star Trek: Picard? But then, it's DS9 and the Enterprise-D. However, that's not the Enterprise! That's the U.S.S. Venture from "Way of the Warrior" (note the fat, double-decker nacelles). So yes, it's definitely Photoshopped. On a positive note, the TNG font has returned--albeit in strange black and orange colors.
In a perfect world, we would see these novels released in their original "pocket" size and feature original painted art on the covers. They would come out every month (remember when there were two or three per month?) and be available in brick and mortar stores. Unfortunately, my local Barnes and Noble hasn't even carried most of them. Can Simon and Schuster turn these books into the hits they were in the 90s and 2000s? Probably not, but with the new Star Trek series, there are still plenty of new stories to be told. Just look at the creativity of the new IDW comics series. It's time to bring that same creativity to the novels. Who wouldn't be excited about the prospect of Star Trek: Legacy novels?
Some of my favorite Star Trek novel covers: