Monday, July 13, 2009

Beauty Is Only Cover Deep...Sometimes

Gosh, I was all set to post this earlier, but I came home from work this morning and fell asleep with my laptop on my lap. Guess I need a nap. But now, from Just One More Page
Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book covers…

We all know the old adage about not judging a book by it’s cover, but just how much sway does a book cover have when it comes to your choice of book – whether buying or borrowing? Are there any books you’ve bought based on the cover alone?

Yes, I must say...since you asked... that I am a shallow person who indeed judges a book but it's cover. Granted, it is just an initial judgment but an attractive cover will give me pause in a bookstore and make me give it a look. Of course, that only works if I can see the cover, the book being on a table or cover forward on the shelf.
Otherwise,I am forced to use something else superficial, like the title.

At least, the author picked that, which I guess is not always the case with the cover art. Sometimes a cover is just so bad, so ill suited to the book, that I feel sorry for the author. It is an interesting question, but I think without doubt a bad cover can hurt sales...but then maybe a really good one can help. You scan a group of books and something must make you pause. Perhaps the title, maybe one you heard of before, maybe an author's name you know, but often it is the cover and something as simple as whether it appeals to us.

I give as possible evidence a show I recently saw on TV. A little study, with the same identical meal being served to two groups, a meal consisting of a salad, fish, veg, potato and chocolate cake. But with one group it was served on paper plates, plastic utensils, bad lighting, folding chairs. With the second, stylish tableware, tablecloths, a printed menu with lovely descriptions, a nice restaurant setting and the exact same food. Then each was asked to rate the food and guess the price. The first group gave it, on a scale of 1-10, a very mediocre 3, the second a quite high 8 and guessed the price as three times as high.

Yes, people do judge by 'the cover'.

I would post some pictures of covers I really like, but I am just too tired to go hunting at the moment.

OK, a few pictures of my vacation to amuse you, emphasis on the amuse part. The fishing was not great but I did catch...and released of course....four tiny fish. 2 very young salmon or parrs, a wee trout and a very small chub. I call it my
"Gallery of Tiny Fish".

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click the collage for a bigger view


  1. I love the lighthouses! The fish are cute too! I am the same way...there has to be something noteable about a book to make you pick it up. I do wonder sometimes whether the author has any say at all in the cover that is used for their book...some are just horrible! You know, I have also applied the same theory to wine buying. It's all about the label!

  2. A great cover can grab my attention, and a lousy one can keep me from picking a book up.

  3. did you catch and release? maybe you will catch them again someday. Nice answer on the cover art

  4. The cover has a great deal to do with whether I want to read a book - although I have found that method to be a very bad one lately. I've read so many books I haven't liked this year that had great covers, that I've decided I need to go on something besides just the cover.

  5. kaye, yes, no fear, the tiny fish all went to swim another day.
    now I did get one bite from something bigger than a tiny fish, maybe even a salmon...{{sigh}}

    The good news is my fly casting is not nearly as bad as it was!
    that and it was all great fun.

    Kathy, I fear that covers are more important than maybe they should be.

    Sandy, I must agree on the wine

  6. Some covers really can turn off a possible reader and I would think it could kill sales. The romance genre might be one of the worst for covers. It's a good thing I make my shopping lists before I even see a cover. LOL

  7. I feel sorry for authors with books with bad covers too! I wonder how much say they get in the cover design though. Some are appalling and if I had spent that much time on a novel, I'd want a great cover.

  8. yvonne, I agree that it is true that the covers of romance novels are usually pretty bad...and let they are BIG sellers, so I guess their readers don't mind or actually like them, right?

    I am not sure Mae how much input authors have. I imagine it differs but I also guess I presume it is a lot, that it really represents the books when I use the cover to judge the book. hmmmm.....

  9. That is interesting about the meal. I can see that happening though. People are so shallow.

    And I agree with you ... a cover can help to make or break a book. With so many books, you need SOMETHING to drag you in if you are just browsing and the cover art is primary if you aren't looking for something in particular. I have on occasion picked up a book just based on the cover.


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