Saturday, February 4, 2012

Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

Jennifer Haymore's stepback for
her debut novel, A Hint of Wicked.

Because I do. Well, not all the time, precisely, but I can't fib on this one. A beautiful cover catches my eye, makes the arm lift, hand reach out, fingers grasp that crisp piece of bound workmanship, wrist flip to read the back blurb, all to see if the premise matches the story already brewing in my head owing to that heady look in the Simon Baker look-a-like's eyes on ... ah, now we're turning over to the front cover again. Maybe even opening to see if there's an even lovelier stepback or, if you're a fantasy reader, a map of the world we're contemplating on entering for the next three to four hundred pages.

I'll go out on a limb here, speak for the majority of all writers, and state that every last one of us dreams of having a fabulous cover for our fragile, slaved-over, precious work of art. Why shouldn't we? We know what the story's about, how everyone will love it as much as we, if only given the opportunity--I'm ready to go in, Coach, just give me a chance!--so why not fantasize about a cover which shouts, "THIS is the book to read! Once you start, you'll be hooked!"

Naturally, a gorgeous, eye-catching cover can amount to a hit and miss. Really, you didn't actually think it'd be a win-win every time, did you? While I won't bite the hand that feeds and hit on those which landed in my Barnes & Nobles bag (heavens, how did that get there??) and, ultimately, wound up in a towering stack at the local secondhand bookstore, I will share a few that made the keeper shelf.

(above) At fifteen, when I saw this worn out paperback at a local 
garage sale, I loved the color of the woman's dress & the pretty flower
in her hair. Needless to say, for the low price of 25 cents, this became 
my very first adult romance novel. It's been special to me ever since.

This baby had managed to land on a $3 clearance table at
Books-a-Million. I saw the cover, picked it up, read somewhere
in the middle, liked what I saw, then flipped to the beginning. I've
been a HUGE Janet Mullany fan ever since. I can read Rules 
anyplace, anytime, and feel immediately at ease. A great find.

As a chick who used to ride English/Hunt Seat, this cover drew
me in almost instantaneously. Discard the gimmick in the upper
right hand corner (although Water for Elephants was a fantastic read); 
Ms. Gruen is a fabulous writer, funny, witty, and does her research.

The warm colors and fancy-schmancy script called my name
on this one. Seductively, as it were. Fab cover aside, Ms. Long is 
one of those gems a lot of romance readers don't know about; 
a true shame, because she's extremely talented, a stickler for detail 
and authenticity, and, boy, can she write a hero to love--faults & all.

What covers reeled you in, hook, line, & sinker? Did any of them found a permanent home on your keeper shelf? 

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

P.S. The very first picture, at the top of the post, is a wee little hint of what's coming later this month on SWBD. Believe me, you're gonna love it! :)


Bonnie Rae said...

I can't lie. If the cover is striking I will pick it up and investigate. Like you, if I read something I like inside, it's a buy!

Andrew Leon said...

At this point in my life I really don't pay much attention to covers. Really, they all tend to be the same. I mean, three of the covers you have here are, essentially, the same cover. All the covers for the Dresden novels are, essentially, the same. Except for that one that's white. I won't say a good cover isn't important, but, really, the title is what grabs my attention about a book.

Oh, and my verification word is "nonhyper." How odd.

Alyssia said...

@Bonnie Maybe it's cuz we're chicks? We like shiny, pretty stuff? And don't you just love those coffee table books at B&N featuring panoramic views of, like, Ireland and castles and what-not? I totally put those on display.

@Andrew LOL--ah, there's my contradiction; I knew it was coming. ;) If some of the covers above appear the same, it's naturally because, when I enter a bookstore, where do my feet head? Straight for romance. That's what I write, after all, so I'd be lying if I said I didn't want one of these babies for my very own novel one fine day. :)

Andrew Leon said...

You knew it was coming from me or just coming?

There's nothing wrong with wanting a good cover. You should! The cover is extremely important because -most- people do judge by the cover.
And I'm not saying that just romance covers are all alike. If you go to pretty much any genre and look through the books, you'll find that most books within that genre have the same sort of cover. Often, that's even on purpose as the publishing company is trying to evoke the feeling of some other, better selling book.

None of that changes the fact that covers tend to be pretty similar which makes actually judging how good the book will be rather difficult.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I only bought one book for it's cover, despite not being fairly sure I'd like the content. Ended up not liking the content, but I'm willing to bet it's still on my shelf because I can't give up the cover. I don't remember what it was called, though I believe it was horror, and the cover was just so fascinating. I like HP Mallory's covers because they're fun, and they really drew me in and made me look twice at her books.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Alyssia said...

@Andrew That's very true; covers of the same genre tend to express the same gist.

@Shannon I, too, can honestly say I've only bought one book for its cover, and that's the Norah Hess romance I purchased at 15. I didn't even bother to read a snippet before handing over my quarter. Nowadays, however, I do three things after picking one up for its pretty cover: 1) Read the back blurb, 2) Flip to the middle, close as I can get, and read for 1-2 pages, and 3) If 2 intrigued me enough, flip to the beginning and read for 1-2 pages.

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