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But it GLITTERS…

July 26, 2010

I recently wrote a guest post for Harmony Beaufort’s “Breaking Up Reading Week” (at her great blog, Harmony’s Radiant Reads). I’m really eager to see what topics the other posters received. Mine, however, was book covers. Covers definitely influence my reading, so this was the perfect topic for me! You can find the actual guest post here.

Without further ado…

But it GLITTERS….

(For those of you who thought I was going to talk about vampires, you’re probably going to be disappointed.)

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Though this little nugget of wisdom might have been affective a century ago, when book covers were primarily cloth and had little design, it’s a piece of advice that is more smirked at now than followed.

Publishers spend hours of time and many other resources to create covers that are alluring. In some cases that means misleading covers that readers find have nothing to do with the book at all. Why? Because we’re easily sold by pretty colors/people/glitter/fancy fonts. The appeal of anything pretty or mystifying, anything that begs the question Why?, or simply snags our attention while we’re glancing over bookshelves will, most likely, encourage us to pick the book up.

One of the reasons I assume publishers are dedicating more time, energy, and man-power to cover design is the absolutely astounding and overwhelming amount of books out there. We don’t have time to pick up every single one and read the first chapter, or even the synopsis. We’re busy people who are struggling to find time to read at all.

Book covers hugely affect our book buying and reading. Their purpose isn’t to protect the book from coffee stains, it’s to draw our attention, grab us, and entice us to pick the book up and read. The higher number of times a book is picked up, the more likely it is to be bought and read.

Many of the blogs I’m subscribed to have cover-related posts. Every week, they compare newly released book covers or covers that have caught their eye recently. Covers are distracting. The font on them is probably the biggest in the book. The picture the only picture. The color the only color. We say we’re done with picture books, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t susceptible to magic of pretty pictures.

On the other hand, book covers also enhance the reading experience. They can be misleading, but they can also serve as “warnings.” With covers that are done well and do say something about the actual story, we can tell that a book is for us. It’s our color of sparkle. Covers can speak to us on a subconscious level, remind us of things we’ve done or seen, or things we’d like to do. They can speak wonders for a book, or they can be a visual poem. They’re an art form. Images resonate with people. The smoking, blown-out candle on the cover of Looking for Alaska directly serves the book, acting as a beautiful metaphor. You can look at the cover, wonder, and yet never know that a significant facet of the story is staring back at you.

Glitter sparkles, catches our eye, and pulls us in. The synopsis determines whether or not we sign the contract, but the publisher already has us holding the pen.

There you are! I definitely recommend keeping an eye on Harmony’s blog throughout the week!

And, as for you guys: How do covers affect your reading? Do they? What kind of covers tend to draw you in?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2010 5:51 PM

    I like covers that look like something out of a fairy tale (A Great and Terrible Beauty) or anything with a juxtaposition of light and dark, carefree and heavy (The Dark Divine), that sort of thing. Dark covers (Incarceron) tend to draw my eye more as well.

    I try not to judge a book by its cover, but its hard! Publishers spend lots of money so that the cover of a book gives an impression of the story, so if I don’t like the cover…

  2. July 26, 2010 2:04 PM

    I decide if I would read a book or not by looking at the cover and the title. I like simple cover, like the cover of The Hunger Game. I really don’t like covers with the characters on them, since I almost always have a different image of the character in my mind.

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