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Covers: I...Don't Care

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by ryanzdawson, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    I've realized that I don't care about book covers. Good cover art is cool and all, but I just don't consider a book's cover when I'm thinking about buying it. In my mind, the story and the cover are two separate works of art. I get the feeling this is an unusual mindset. Or maybe it's simply a mindset you don't hear a lot about. Do that many people honestly equate the quality of the cover with the quality of the story? What do you think?
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Well, a cover is packaging, part of your marketing. As such most people would say they agree with you, but market behavior shows otherwise. Surveys frequently show that when asked, “were you influenced by....” people will say no, but when asked to rate a product after seeing an ad, they show a huge difference vs those who didn’t see the ad. It’s a well understood thing with marketing.
     
  3. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    It was the other way with me. I believed covers were influencing me, but then I realized they weren't. I just don't care about packaging of any kind. Honestly. But I know people care about pretty wrapping. People are stupid that way.

    Make no mistake: I'm definitely a moron. I just throw packaging away. It's garbage. To me, that is. (Not that I cut off book covers! I just don't care what's on them.) I have to believe there are people who feel the same way. Maybe it's a small group.
     
  4. Mia.P.Fisher

    Mia.P.Fisher Minstrel

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    i don't buy a book for its cover as you are right, two different artists, not the same art. But i don't buy a book if i don't like the cover. I refuse to surround myself with something i don't find visually pleasing. it doesn't have to be pretty but i have to like it. If not i won't be able to sleep at night knowing there is something i don't approve in my home
     
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    while I am sure there are a good many few who have never been swayed by the cover art of something, the marketing numbers would still suggest having a good cover sells, it would be helpful to have one.

    I've noticed that in the comic book world not only does cover art sell, but they run the same issue with several different covers and they all sell.
     
    ryanzdawson likes this.
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I never used to care about covers, back when it was all traditional publishing. This is because the cover was separately commissioned and the author didn't have much say about it. I could appreciate a good cover--I have a soft spot for the old painted covers from 1970s and before--but I didn't buy a book based on that.

    Nowadays, though, I do indeed judge a book by its cover. With self-published books, the cover is part of a statement of commitment by the author. It's not an absolute correlation, but most times when the cover looks amateurish, the story inside is likewise amateurish. I've encountered this so often, and there are so many very good books to read, when I see a lousy cover, I just move on.
     
  7. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    Nothing wrong with that! I suspect that's a common mindset. I like cool pictures. When I want to read, I'm only looking for words. But I'm neurodivergent. I have trouble with image-referent relationships.
     
  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    If the cover doesn't pique my interest, I won't look closer to see what the book is about - unless it's a book I've been recommended by someone, or if I know the author.
     
    ryanzdawson likes this.
  9. ryanzdawson

    ryanzdawson Dreamer

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    Hmm I'm getting the feeling that I might be in a minority.
     
  10. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    I judge a book by its cover. If it's bad, then I won't bother going any further. But a beautiful cover alone won't get me to buy. I need to check out the story itself for that.
     
    Mia.P.Fisher likes this.
  11. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    If a cover is obviously badly done/amateurish, it will probably put me off. Beyond that, it doesn't mean much. I admit to a distaste for the generic fantasy cover, even if done well. They all seem the same and aren't likely to catch my eye.
     
  12. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    For me there is a difference between the thumbnails on ebooks and a dust jacket. A bad dust jacket may make me wince but I tend to buy writers I know. Also I can't say that I buy enough new books to have an idea of the state of play. I love the covers to Anne Hillerman's books. They all have a stark beauty and a consistent look like this:
    [​IMG]
    Back in the day [70s] and I can't remember the authors [apart from Asimov], we had a family friend that had a wall of Chris Foss covers. It was magnificent to a young kid like me.
    Imagine a wall of images like this...
    [​IMG]
    Except his were crisp and new...
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I’m with skip.knoxskip.knox when it comes to self-published works. If the cover is amateurish I take that as a pretty good indicator of the author’s investment in the work and the level of quality I can expect from the writing. I usually pass.
     
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I cannot read the blurb or first sentence of every book, or even open the Amazon page. How am I going to pick which books to look at if not by the cover?
     
  15. Mia.P.Fisher

    Mia.P.Fisher Minstrel

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    i guess we were going by the old fashion way of buying a book... going to a bookshop. Or maybe so were you? i am the kind that goes to the aisle of my genre and read the synopsis of all the books except the ones of the cover i dislike (see my previous comment in the thread as the reason why) if i like the backpage then i open it at random and get a feel for the voice.
     
  16. From someone who makes their living selling the things they make, I'd say packaging, while not everything, is quite vital.

    But let's stick to books. As a reader, of course, you may not care about covers and that's fine. I couldn't find fault with any reader for that. But as an author, it shows a level of complete understanding of the business/craft to ensure you have a well designed cover that represents the book within or the genre(s) it slots into. It's the very first impression, before a single word (other than the title which is ALSO very important) that people will get of your work, and It matters.

    I'm big on visual. When I browse my library's online section or, say, Kindle, I won't give a book with a bad/amateurish cover a second look. It's not that I think the book can't possibly be good, it might, but I'm never at a lack for good books to read and my to-read list seems to grow all the time without spending my time taking the risk on those books which are, for the most part, certain to disappoint. Especially with self-published titles, I think it shows a lot about the author's level of dedication, care and intent. Their belief in their own work. And perhaps an ability to look outside themselves for input and feedback. There really is good and bad when it comes to presentation. It's not entirely subjective. The style may be arguable, but the level of execution of it is not.

    It also fair to say it's only packaging but when I order something online and it's shipped in packaging that clearly wasn't well thought out, adequate enough t to protect or simply done to be the cheapest it can be, I won't likely buy from that seller again. It says something about the seller. Toss a breakable item in a mailer with no protective packaging around it? Done. Maybe it's because I sell my work, which is often fragile, worldwide and I take great pride in the current (knocks on wood) streak I have of four plus years without a piece arriving damaged, even when the box seems trashed! That's because I thought out not only the design of the product packaging but the protective end of it as well.

    But I drift. . . back to book covers, I think it's been proven time and again in marketing research. People, on the whole, will respond more favorably before they've read a word if the cover sets the right mood. Not that every author needs to master book cover design. I've had my digital art used as book covers, including by large-print publishing houses who for some reason don't use the original cover artwork on their books, several times. Some people just ask and work out a deal with the artist. Some hire an illustrator or painter to do the art from their original idea. You don't have to create it from scratch or pay a lot.

    Maybe I feel that way because I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't put their best effort into the cover as they did with the book itself. I've discovered quite a few wonderful books in genres might otherwise not have been quick to read solely because the artwork on the cover got me to look inside. It's not a guarantee, of course, as I've stopped reading books part way through that had the most amazing covers. :)

    And yes, to those who mentioned it above and offered examples, covers can still inspire as they did in those old days!
     
  17. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Gonna have to agree with the consensus: covers sell books, and if a cover isn't up to par it will actually hurt a book's sales. I know I won't touch a book with a bad cover. To me it says that the author doesn't value their work enough to at least invest in the packaging and I simply don't have time for amateur hour. Plus, a good cover is simply a pleasure to look at. The cover tells a story all on its own. What that story is is for the author (or publisher) to decide.
     
  18. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    For me, this is the answer. I read somewhere that there are 50 million books on Amazon. I can't look at all of them in detail to pick one to buy. I can't even do that with the 15.000 or so books in a real bookstore.

    So, I narrow it down. Common criteria for me are authors I like or recommendations. If that doesn't give results, then I browse by genre. And something in a book needs to draw my attention to make me pick it up and read what it's about. And that something is either the title or the cover.

    In the end, I buy a book because of something else, but I take a first look at a book because of the cover or title.

    ryanzdawsonryanzdawson : how do you choose what book to read?
     
  19. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I have a related glitch: if you haven't put out money for a cover, you haven't put out money for editing.

    If you haven't put out money for editing, you either don't take your writing very seriously, or (much worse), you take your writing so seriously you're convinced it's perfect and doesn't need editing.
     
  20. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Another interesting thing to be aware of is that how a cover looks says bit about what type/genre of book it is. Fantasy books often look a certain way, and science fiction books another. Romantic fantasy looks different to dark fantasy. Although, at the sub-genre level the differences get subtle and there's a lot of overlap.
    For a more stark contrast, compare fantasy with something like psychological thrillers, and you'll see that there's a pretty big difference.

    For someone who reads a lot in a specific genre, it helps them single out which books might be catering to their tastes without having to click on the cover and read the blurb. They can skip the box they're not interested in, and go straight for the ones they want.

    That said, a good cover doesn't guarantee a good book, and a bad cover guarantee a bad book.
    It's perfectly fine for a reader not to give a rat's arse about how the cover of a book looks.
    As an author, however, the cover is the reader's first impression of your book, and if it's not a good first impression, chances are it will be the only impression.
     
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