Monday, October 17, 2011
I admit it.
I am a shallow person.
I do judge a book by it's cover.
Of course, it is not totally about me being a shallow person. We are meant to judge a book by it's cover to some degree, aren't we? Or why would publishers bother to put what they think is an attractive cover on the book if we weren't meant to use it to judge the book. They design a cover to attract a certain audience. Hopefully one who will like the book. But first they have to make us pick it up and take a look and the cover is a large part of making that happen.
At least for me.
However, I think it is meant to be a short, shallow period of judgement, maybe just enough to make us pick up this book rather than that book. Then we will start to read what the book is about, maybe read the first couple of page and we will be so caught up that we will run to the register with out Visa card waving in one hand, the oh-so delightful book in the other. At least, I assume that is the plan.
Sometime it works, sometimes it doesn't.
I do think a cover can catch our eye, make us pause and make us pick up one book as opposed to maybe dozens of others sitting on a table in a bookstore. But usually it will only buy the book a moment's chance. Still, a moment is better than nothing.
I wonder how many really good books, books that I may have really liked, I have passed over because of a poor choice in cover art. I am thinking of a book that was recently reviewed on another blog, Pudgy Penguin Perusals, a book called The Woman Who Heard Color. If I did not always read her blog every day, most likely I would not ever have read that review and never taken even a look at that book. The cover is one often seen on historical romance books, romance books...the oh-so popular headless woman, her dress partially undone. Not my cuppa tea. Yep, I would have not given it a second glance. But actually, reading the review, it seems like a very interesting sounding book.
Someone at that publisher made a poor choice in representing what the book is really about and targeting it's audience.
Then, you have an example of the opposite case.
I read a review on Beth Fish Reads of a book called The Taste of Salt. The minute I saw that cover, with that little stack of beautiful sea glass, I knew I would buy that book. Even if I hated the book, which I did not, I would not be unhappy to own it just for the cover. And now I have quite a hankering to get hold of some sea glass...
I don't know a great deal about the process of picking a cover, of how much input the author has, of who has the final say, but I think, especially for a writer who does not have a well established audience, it is critically important. It is not a matter of fooling the reader but just helping the target reader pick that books from all the many, many other books out there. Yes, I think a really great cover can be a very important factor in a book's success.
And it is something I have noticed, and do not like, about about e-books and audiobooks.
With a 'real' book, every time I pick the book up to read, I see that cover. If it is one that I especially like, it adds to the pleasurable experience of my reading and it part of my whole enjoyment of the book. And, in the future, just looking at the cover again as it sits on a shelf (or one of my many piles) will remind me of a book I loved. But with an e-book, while it has a 'cover', and on some readers it may even be in color, most likely I only see it the first time I 'open' the book. In the future, the reader will just take me to where I left off and I will not see the cover again. Sad.
Same with an audio book. If I download it to my iPod, when I do so will be the only time I glance at the cover...a small, little version of the cover at that.
Yes, I admit it.
E-books do have some advantages, but like the loss of those beautiful old album covers when we went to CDs and MP3 downloads, those advantages come with a price.