Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thoughts for Thursday: Book Covers

Thoughts for Thursday is a discussion post mainly about book related things. It isn't every week, but we try to do it as often as possible.


I'm sure everyone has heard the saying "don't judge a book by its cover," but I'm sure I'm not the only one that really loves covers and will often initially pick up books because the cover was pretty or unusual. I feel like book covers are important because they're a person's first impression of the book. It's like when you first meet someone, you'll either have a good first impression or a bad one. If you have a bad first impression it would make sense that you would be less likely to seek that person out again and I feel like this is kind of similar to good or bad first impressions with book covers. If the book cover gives you a bad first impression will you be more or less likely to pick that book up? For me (and probably a lot of people) they would probably be less likely to pick it up. I hope some of that made sense.

There are certain kinds of covers that I absolutely love and ones that make me wonder what was going on when it was designed. Personally, covers with faces I don't tend to like as much, with a few exceptions. I think those take away the imagination of the reader if they're already given the face of the main character. I do like covers where the face is obscured or not entirely clear because it still leaves a lot up to the imagination.

Of course, the more creative the cover, the more I'm going to absolutely love it. Covers like the ones for The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater immediately catch my attention. In the YA section a lot of books have very similar cover designs. I'm sure if I went through all the books I own and took a brief look at books at my local library and bookstore, many of them would feature a girl in a pretty dress on the cover. I'm not entirely sure why this is such a trend, but I still prefer more unique covers, even if I think some of the covers with girls in dresses are pretty. 


This is actually a really interesting topic for me because I'm thinking about working in the publishing industry after college and have gone over book covers in my Publishing in the 21st Century class, as well as with some of the authors I have worked with in the past. For my publishing class I actually interviewed a couple authors about their Trade, Indie, and Self publishing experiences and how much influence they had over their book covers! It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot to present to my class. A lot more goes into book covers than I thought, especially with the increasing popularity of ebooks. I never even considered how all of my hardcover books might look when squished into a thumbnail like on Goodreads or Amazon, but how it looks as a thumbnail is an important factor in designing a book cover.

Book Covers are the most important marketing tool to sell a book to the right audience. Having the wrong cover could be the difference between being a bestseller or not. When someone looks at a cover, they should be able to tell exactly what genre it is. For example, if I say I'm reading a romance book I'm already picturing a fat, short, mass-marketed paperback with Fabio on the cover. A lot of Fantasy books show warriors and battles on their covers.  If you walk into a book store, you might not buy a book 100% based on its cover, but you pick it up and read the blurb because that cover attracted you more than the other covers. For me, I'm attracted to covers that don't feel like they were done in a couple minutes in photoshop and are more artsy-based. Like Rick Riordan's covers.

Actually, a total example of the power of book covers in action is Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer. When I first saw the cover I was so unimpressed I was actually put off from buying it. I loved the covers of A Daughter of Smoke and Bone. What the heck happened??? I don't want boring half yellow half blue with some moths on it. NO THANK YOU. Even though the blurb was cool I could not bring myself to want to purchase the book. Then, I later saw the other cover. The one that was solid dark blue, like the sky before night fully comes, with a large golden moth on the cover. I was stunned. This was gorgeous!  I was thinking "How could Hodder & Stoughton even show the first cover to the light of day when they had something as gorgeous as this up their sleeves??" Then the moment of realization hit me. There were two covers because there were two publishing companies selling the same book. Little, Brown was selling the cover I disliked, and Hodder & Stoughton were selling the cover I adored. So the different publishing companies and artists Laini worked with made a huge aesthetic difference and almost stopped me from enjoying her next book. Basically, I discovered I totally enjoyed solid backgrounds with silver/gold geometric shapes and squiggles on them- so pretty!

What kind of covers do you prefer?

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