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.