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Amph Judging a book by its cover

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by NYCitygurl, Nov 19, 2009.

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  1. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    Kinda prompted by Hav and RJ, thanks guys :p

    Do you do it? If the cover has terrible art, would you put it back? If it has really great art, would you pick it up? What makes you notice a book?

    I remember being asked once what had attracted me to a book, and I responded with something along the lines of "Well, it's red." Very articulate, but I meant it - there was this one red book in a shelf on not-red books, and it stood out, so I picked it up and read the back cover. And Warbreaker, which I hadn't meant to read right away, has an absolutely stunning cover, so I saw it and decided to take a look.

    What makes you pick up a book you've never heard of before?
  2. tjace

    tjace Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 11, 2008
    Mostly, it doesn't matter whether a book has a good cover or not (although it's nice if it does). I usually don't pick up a new series at all unless I already know the author or someone has recommended it to me.
  3. Rogue...Jedi

    Rogue...Jedi Administrator Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 12, 2000
    For me, its a lot more about author/series recognition. And as far as the cover goes, the title is more likely to influence me than the art, though if I've never heard of it, I'm still not likely to get it.
  4. Raven

    Raven Administrator Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Oct 5, 1998

    While I don't specifically judge a book by its cover, I have definitely been known to decide whether or not to buy a book based on its cover.

    The first example to come to mind is Orbit books. I don't know who their art director is or what he or she is getting paid, but they need to be paid more. And they need to hire better editors. I haven't bought a book from Orbit that I haven't regretted buying. I've almost certainly bought over a dozen books from that publisher, and I can't say as I've enjoyed any. I keep swearing I'll not bother trying another, no matter how great the cover looks. And yes, I go to a book store looking for something new, and there's another Orbit book, looking worlds better and more interesting than anything else on shelf.

    By contrast, there's a lot of Tor books I ignored initially based on a terrible cover - often with some [link=]Sweet[/link] art - and later picked up due to the little tiny Tor logo on the spine. While not all Tor books are created equal, I've rarely been let down by Tor.

  5. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    I'm as likely to see a book's spine on the shelf as I am the cover, so I can't say it plays a great role in catching my eye. I tend not to pick up a lot of books at the bookstore as impulse buys anyway -- I tend to hear about things by word of mouth, or from good reviews, or because I know the author, and then seek them out. It's possible covers might catch my eye and get me to check the book out, but that itself's not going to get me to buy it.
  6. NJOfan215

    NJOfan215 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 17, 2003
    I don't really impulse buy. I will see a book, think it has a cool cover then research it. If I here good things about it, I buy it.
  7. Qui-Gon_Reborn

    Qui-Gon_Reborn Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Dec 11, 2008
    Mostly I buy books based on research I've done -- that is, looking up authors, browsing Barnes and Noble and Borders selections online, and talking to you guys. :p But once in a while, I'll see something with an absolutely awesome cover and can't help but pick it up.

    A great example of this is The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. I had no idea that Bester was the first guy to win the Hugo Award, and I knew nothing about him or his books. But the cover of the book looked great, so I looked at the back and bought it on a whim. I haven't regretted it, since it's one of my favorite novels of all time.
  8. JoinTheSchwarz

    JoinTheSchwarz JC Head Admin & Community Manager star 9 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 21, 2002
    It's not a factor at all.

    LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    May 25, 2002
    I do somewhat, especially with Sci-Fi and Mystery books. If I see an unfamiliar author in SF and pull the book out to take a look and the cover is obviously sword & sorcery or steampunk then I will put it back as normally those types of SF books don't interest me. (There have been rare exceptions.)
    If I'm in Mystery and pull a book out and it's obviously a cozy (little old lady solving crimes type of mystery) I will avoid it. I prefer police procedural mysteries or horror/mystery.
  10. Cobranaconda

    Cobranaconda Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Mar 3, 2004
    Books I bought because of the cover that were good:

    Priestess of the White (Trudi Canavan. Since then picked up the rest of that trilogy, Magicians Guild trilogy and Apprentice)
    Kushiel's Dart (Jacqueline Carey. Bought all Terre d'Ange books since)
    Serrano Legacy (Elizabeth Moon)
    Empress of Mijak (Karen Miller. Bought the rest of the Hekat trilogy, which was good, and the Asher books, which I thought sucked).
    The Way of the Shadows (Brent Weeks. Finished in about a day, bought the other two the next :p )

    Books I bought because of the cover that sucked:

    Keeping It Real (Justina Robson).

    All of these were UK covers :p Overall I think I like risk buying...
  11. Mister_Master

    Mister_Master Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 17, 2007
    I like book art, but that is not what draws me to a book. Names are the first things that pop out to me. If it has a lame name I am probably not going to get it. I have read books with lame names and they have been lame books. I like books that either have a exciting name, a interesting name, or a name that sticks out to you. For my fanfics and stuff I like to go with a naming system that sounds interesting, and can describe the entire book with just that phrase. My Fanfic is called Survivors of Time. If you look carefully you can see the whole story from the name. My naming system is based of what they used for Babylon 5 in naming the episodes. If the name sounds interesting then I will read the rest of the cover, and if that sounds interesting I will check it out.
  12. XCell

    XCell Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 7, 2004
    It depends how bad the cover art is.. I didn't like the cover of 'Where the Red Fern Grows', but I began reading it anyway. The covers for sci-fi, fantasy and romance books can be very bad, and embarassing. I almost always prefer illustrated art instead of photos with Photoshop effects.

    I think I'm more a visual person. I even judge books based on the letter font.[face_whistling]
  13. Duragizer

    Duragizer Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 23, 2009
    I used to ... when I was a kid.

    If only those Goosebumps books were as good as the covers let on ... :(
  14. Sauntaero

    Sauntaero Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jul 9, 2003
    Hey, Goosebumps was awesome! ...well, a select few of them.
  15. PeteTB

    PeteTB Jedi Youngling

    Apr 17, 2002
    I mostly stick to comics so the cover art is a big draw to me. Although many times the cover artist hasn't done the art for the whole book.
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