Booking Through Thursday

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

I’m Barnes & Noble’s dream customer.  I don’t generally rely on reviews or recommendations to find new books to read.  I like to find them on my own, so when I go to a bookstore, I usually just start picking up books at random, which means I generally go for the “face out” covers first, and unless I know the author, I pick the ones with the best looking covers.

I don’t consider it shallow.  I used to design Web pages for a living, and while Web pages and book covers aren’t the same, there are certain elements of good design that are universal, and I can tell when a graphic designer hasn’t bothered to include them.  I’ve discovered that while a well-designed cover doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is good, a badly-designed cover correlates very highly with a bad book.  (The same is true for movie posters as well.)  If the publisher lets through a bad design, it indicates to me that someone in the process doesn’t really care much about the book.  The same is true for poorer quality paper or cheaper bindings.  If the publisher doesn’t care, why should I?

That may sound harsh, and I know I’ve probably missed out on some good books that way, but there are so many good books, I can’t possibly read them all anyway.  There has to be some way of narrowing down the choices.

7 thoughts on “Cover-Up

  1. Becca March 27, 2008 / 11:16 am

    So well said! Especially when you say there are so many out there anyway…so narrowing the choice by cover works!

  2. J.C. Montgomery March 27, 2008 / 11:43 am

    I too, have a nature which is prone to being attracted by aesthetic pleasing appearances.

    There is something about any type of art, be it the cover of a book or a painting, which uses colors and images that flow and blend in a way which pleases my minds eye. I am drawn to them more than any other.

    I don’t think it is shallow at all, as that would imply that not only your thinking, but your reasoning has no depth…and after reading this post, I know that is not the case.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Ann Darnton March 27, 2008 / 11:46 am

    Yes, your main point is true. We all have to find ways of narrowing down what we’re going to read and who is to say which way works best; it’s all a matter of personal preference.

  4. Bridget March 27, 2008 / 4:06 pm

    Well said – especially the correlation between a bad cover and a bad book! Yes, it’s personally arbitrary, but usually it works out the way you have described it.

  5. Jennifer March 27, 2008 / 4:43 pm

    So true… Interesting point about the bad cover-bad book correlation. 🙂

  6. jeane March 27, 2008 / 4:44 pm

    Interesting. I have, on occasion, come across a book I absolutely love which has a hideous cover. But, as you say, there are so many excellent ones out there, you’re probably not missing much.

  7. rebecca May 22, 2008 / 7:21 am

    i’m a bookstore dream customer as well because i do the same: do not rely on reviews. and, i can also be charged with primarily choosing books that appeal to me visually although that is not the definitive buying distinction…the first page has to hook me, period. despite whether author is known or not, if it does, then i’m a buyer. and i’m happy to say that i’ve found a plethora of wonderful newbie writers this way. hubbie and i went last night to b&n and walked out with several books — the first time he and i walked out with different books by same author, paulo coehlo, a miracle since we both have different tastes in books altogether….oh, such geeks we are 🙂

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