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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover . . .

What makes you buy a book?

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover. But the cover can certainly make you buy the book. At least for me, the cover is what draws me to a book in the first place. I am a visual person, my senses enhanced by what I see. My urge to spend money also ignited by something that is colorful, pretty, whimsical. I have bought books because of the cover, books I never planned to read, but loved the artwork.

     Perhaps it goes back to my career with the federal government. A great job, but for one that wanted to be surrounded by beauty, a government office is a dreary setting. I used to joke, “If only I could have a wicker chair and a hooked rug in my little nook.” I could keep books tucked around my desk, tiny pieces of art that made me smile as I went about my work.

     The words on the back cover play a huge role, too, on my purchasing the book. If the cover has pulled me in, made me hold the book in my hands, or enlarge the photo on my computer, I want to read what it is about. That small space where the author leaves a blurb is as important to me as an elevator pitch to an agent. Make me want to read you.  My attention span is short and you need to grab me.

      Recommendations by other authors? I don’t pay attention to them. It’s nice if you have a novel and a NY Times Best Seller Author has left a kind line on your jacket. It just tells me that person loved the book. But will I? An award-winning book? Perhaps that will get more attention from me.

     My own reading habits and book purchases are questionable at best. Loving  the art on the cover, instead of reading reviews, and buying the book versus  reading a great review and putting the book back on the shelf because I don't like the cover. I always go for the look I love best.
     Certain images that pull me in, make me want to see what the book has to offer, go along with my passions in life. As a gardener, antique dealer, dog hoarder, it should come as no surprise I can’t pass up a book with any related image to the above. If there are people on the cover, please don’t show me their faces, or much of their body parts. I like to form my own opinion of what the characters look like. If I don’t like the people pictured on the jacket, well, I won’t like the book. Just telling it as it is for me.
     The exception to my rule, memoirs. There, a photo is a must. My stalker self comes out. I want to see who I am reading about. An example below, A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas.  The cover hits many of my must-haves. A photo of the author and her dogs. And to contradict my earlier comment about blurbs by other authors, Stephen King says it is the best memoir he's ever read. Okay, I am inconsistent. But that cover, oh my.
I love the cover on The Language of Flowers. Bought the book in 2012,  and haven't read it yet. The image makes me smile and the book is placed where I can see it on my dresser.
Of course, I am crazy about all of Jackie Bouchard's book covers. What dog lover could pass by this cover without taking a peek at the book? And the back blurb, well, guess what the dog ate . . .

Then there is whimsy? Below are two covers that made me stop and look on Amazon.
Garden illustrations . . . A Sweet Cover
Not only does this cover make me smile, it makes me hungry. So I might buy the book and a cupcake.
So I read and loved Abigail Thomas' memoir, I own the Language of Flowers, and yes, I might buy the other two books based on the cover art.
My memoir cover in 2010 drew some comments on The Book Designer site (link to site but not comments on my cover. That was some time ago.) No one liked that I had so much white in the cover (it did fade as a thumbnail and I had to frame it in black) and men did not understand the image of sunglasses being tossed, thinking I was getting rid of my husband's glasses. A friend, a professional designer, came up with the cover.  Since the essays are of hope, and the memoir a bit quirky, the pink and white seemed to convey more of the nature of my story. Does it draw a buyer in? I haven't a clue. But I hope it lets the reader know the book is more lighthearted in its approach.


I wish I had a more intellectual way of choosing books. For me, my method works. How do you choose what you will read next? And what do you like on a book jacket?

 Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here:


Julie Valerie said...

I love your selection of book covers for this post, Barbara. I admit to having a weakness for books with dogs on the cover. How interesting that your cover was discussed on The Book Designer website.

Who knows why we do what we do when judging books by their covers. I just know that I love them. Bookstores are like museums of art. I could spend the whole day looking at covers.

Pauline Wiles said...

I, too was thinking of Jackie Bouchard's books before you mentioned them. And yes, I'd much prefer to see a dog than a human on the cover.
And like you, I'm flying in the face of 'no white covers' advice. I find them clean, modern and fun. But one day I might switch mine up and see what happens. As for cakes? Ooh, yes please!

Khrys Vaughan said...

I tend to lean more towards clean/minimalist covers, or ones that aren't too busy and depict the story as closely as possible. Sometimes I take a chance and purchase a book that has an interesting cover. It's a huge disappointment when the cover has nothing to do with the story inside.

Sandie Docker said...

Oh you must read The Language of Flowers. It's great. (and has a very different cover here in OZ).

I'm a sucker for a good cover. Even bought a book once JUST because I loved the cover so much.

Jackie Bouchard said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I also lhave been known to buy books simply for the dog(s) on the cover. (And then I get upset if there's no such dog even in the story....) :)

I loved Three Dog Life! And your memoir as well. And I definitely think the pink and white cover gives it the right air.