Wednesday, 22 June 2011

QOTW: Do you judge a book by it's cover?

It's been six days since my horrendous migraine and I'm still feeling unwell. I had an emergency doctors appointment yesterday and he's signed me off work until the 29th. I hate feeling unwell and I hate being off work, but sometimes we get little choice in the matter. My only consolation in all of this is that blogging can be done sitting down and without expending too much energy.

So on to my Question of the Week post.

When I checked Brenda Drake's blog this morning, and found my What Katy Did At School cover redesign has been chosen as a semi-finalist, it got me thinking again about how important to sales it can be to get the right book cover.

When I choose a book the cover plays only a small part in helping me to decide whether to buy it. Usually, I go to the science fiction, fantasy, or horror section, and unless I've already read a book by an author, it's the back cover blurb that helps me decide. If it excites, teases, or grabs my attention, I'll read the first few lines of the first page. If that does the same thing as the blurb, I'll buy the book. Even if I hate the cover, I'll still buy the book. The only time a cover plays a part in the process is when they sometimes have books facing cover forward, and a startlingly or unique cover draws me in.

I'm not sure if I am in the minority, average, or majority when choosing my books this way, but I have seen instances where the cover has influenced sales. For example, Talli Roland's Hating Game was doing good sales when it first came out but the publisher was concerned it wasn't reaching it's target market. They took the decision to change the cover and the sales immediately increased. She sold four times as many on the first day the new cover was used. So potential readers where judging the book by it's cover.

How about you? Do you judge a book by it's cover? How important a part does the cover play when you choose a book?

If you've published a book or are about to, are you satisfied the cover appeals to your target market? Would you consider changing it if sales weren't as strong as you hoped? Have you changed it? What was the outcome of that change?


  1. I think I'm with you on this one. I tend to go more for the blurb than the design - mostly because I tend to see only the spine of a book when I'm browsing to buy.

    Interesting fonts sometimes attract me. And I freely admit that I chose one of my most favourite books EVER because it had a dragon on the spine (a bronze Chinese one) but mostly it's the words.

  2. Well, unfortunately, I've never read one of Erin Evonavich's books b/c I never her book covers were gawdy bright. Total yikes! They've never taunted me to even read the blurb. The gal that edits my stuff says I write like her. When I'm finally published, I'll pick up her stuff and read.

    And, I hope you get better. The planets must be lined up against us or something.

  3. Yes I read the blurb, first page + another page or two, but it is the cover - or at least the ethos? of the cover which makes me pick it up in the first place ... and has a lot to do with colour. I'm convinced there's quite a lot of clever manipulation going on with the 'science' of book cover appeal, but it works in a more negative way, i.e. I instinctively know which are the 'blokes' books or the OTT 'chick-lit' ...
    And I have designed my book covers because a) I like to & b) wouldn't 'trust' anyone else to do it how I want ... but as to whether or not they'd sell ... who knows?
    Interesting question this Ellie - hope you are now recovered from your migraine.

  4. A cover can draw my initial attention, but it's the back blurb that will get me to buy it.

  5. CONGRATULATIONS with your book cover making the semi-finalist list!! Yay!! It's a great cover - so yay for you!!!

    Oh I'm all for intriguing book covers! That's why I love going to bookstores!! I love the time and effort spent on getting book covers to grab my attention! Then of course I read the blurb next. Then the first paragraph. Then I part with my monies!!

    Now please take care and get better Ellie!! xx

  6. Oh Ellie, so sorry you are still suffering! Migraines are the worst! I hope you are better~

    Covers lure me in to look further, but like you, I read the back cover blurb and first paragraph. The words have to please me or it is a no go...

    We tried the game, but we weren't in the right place. We were on a military base, not to many staying in cafe area. So, it didn't work so well, but we do plan on going today to a bookstore with a great cafe. I'll keep you posted ;D Now, get better...could food allergies be related to this?

  7. Sorry you are feeling unwell and hope you're back fighting fit soon.

    Loved the read.
    Take care.


  8. the picture draws me in, then the blurb on the back, and finally the first page. Then I'll buy.

  9. the cover is a total draw for me, but i look for that weird cover... nothing will ever be normal for me, how sad.

    feel worlds better,


  10. I've picked up books because of intriguing or beautiful artwork. It's so important to have a great cover. Get me to pick up the book and I'll flip it over to read the blurb. Then I might even crack it open and take a peek inside. By then I'm already half-way there to buying it.

    I'll walk past a bad cover unless I already know the author's work. I really am that much of a neanderthal.

  11. I tend to shop by genre so I know what I'm getting. The blurb is what decides it for me, and the first couple pages. I guess the cover might grab my attention if it's the first thing I see; but if I don't like the blurb I won't buy the book.

    Feel better, Ellie!

  12. Colour catches my eyes but it's the blurb on the back which makes me want to read the book.

    I know how evil migraines can be as I'm a sufferer too. Hope you feel better soon

  13. Beautiful/striking covers attract me, then I read the blurb, a few paragraphs at random and finally I buy or not.

  14. I won't buy a book simply because of the cover but I'll pick it out if the cover looks attractive, and that is the first step.

  15. For me the cover catches my eye- then the back blurb. Its the cover though that draws me into to see if I might be interested. All those shelves are lined with books, they have to get my attention or it gets lost in the fodder.

  16. Ellie, hope you feel better soon!
    I admit it - I judge. If the cover doesn't catch my eye, I'll never pick up the book to even read the back. Fortunately for us, the science fiction/fantasy section is full of cool covers!

  17. It has to be an awesome cover for it to sway me. Usually I go on recommendations.

  18. Personally, I don't really judge books by their covers. Growing up, a lot of the stuff I really enjoyed was that old science fiction pulp from the 50's and 60's, with covers that were pretty gawdy. So, I guess I have been desensitized to the whole cover concept. If the story blurb is good, I'll try it, even if the artwork isn't exceptional.

    Titles catch my attention more than anything for an opening hook. That's the other big pitch to prospective readers. The right title can make or break a book.

    I hope you feel better soon. I've had a touch of something, myself, and it's never fun.

  19. I have been put off by some covers but it is the blurb that hooks me nine times out of ten. I really hate books that only have ‘A ripping read!- Neil Moore’ or ‘New York Times Best seller list’ or whatever and never tell you anything about the book you have in your hand. Another no no is a blurb that extols their previous book or series without telling you anything about the book you still have in your hand.
    Hope the migraine is getting better.

  20. Hope you're feeling better and better by the hour. Are you hydrated??

    Really interesting post - I agree with the commenter above who said the cover got her attention but the back blurb caused her to buy the book...and, also color...I don't buy pastel book covers - haven't a clue why!

  21. I avoided the Hunger Games for ages because I didn't like the cover. My loss.

  22. PS I really hope you start to feel better soon.

  23. Unless it's a known author I think I look at Title, blurb, cover design, first page.
    I really hope you are already starting to feel better on the new meds, too. HUGS :O) x

  24. Hi Ellie .. certainly the book cover makes me pick the book up, then look at the blurb; but so does the title and possibly the author, and the potential contents.

    But now - a different pick up point has happened .. reading bloggers' reviews - love hearing what other friends, who blog, say about various books ...

    Wish there were 500 hours in a day!!

    Get better - and hope whatever is bugging you flies away soon .. enjoy the few free days though. Cheers Hilary

  25. Hi Ellie .. forgot the congratulations for the book cover .. well done - such good news! Cheers again - Hilary

  26. My decision is based more on the back blurb but the cover can help draw me into picking the book up in the first place.

  27. I can't help being attracted to covers, but I also pay attention to descriptions and reviews.

  28. I hope you'll feel better soon. Those migraines can feel like head clamps.

    Re: covers
    That's a topic I can discuss at length. LOL. In my past life I was a graphic artist and art director for a big ad firm, so I know the triggers that grab a target market.

    While a terrific book cover won't make me buy, it will make me stop, and that's all it's meant to do. What you want is for the reader to pause long enough to read the blurb and make a buying decision.

    PS You startled the heck out of me when I saw my cover on your sidebar. :o) Thank you! That was so sweet.

  29. I have to agree with you about the whole cover thing. The majority of the time we can not see the cover. I do though tend to look at covers and make some judgments about a book.

  30. I'm so sorry you're dealing with a migraine, I hope you are feeling better soon.

    I admit I'm guilty of judging by the cover at times, although it's not even intentional. But like another poster said, I avoided the Hunger Games for quite a while as I didn't like the cover.

    Congrats on having your cover chosen as a semi-finalist, it's a wonderful cover!

  31. It's a terrible thing to admit, but yes, I've bought books because of the cover. The blurb is always important too (obviously), but a cover can push me to buy now rather than to add it to my to buy list.


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