Random Thoughts: Cover Appeal

For many authors today the design and reveal of their book’s cover is in and of itself an event.

A lot of effort and thought goes into just what might appeal to readers of the book, how the colors and images will affect its desirability and how much it tells about the story.

A cover can be intriguing, enticing, calming, bold or humorous. It can disturb, it can sadden and it can open up the imagination to a world of possibilities.

The images, font, color and texture all go into the message that will give that first impression – one that can either make or break a sale.

When browsing through a bookstore, with no specific purchase in mind, it is the cover that determines whether or not you pick up that book and even choose to read the flap or turn it over to see what’s on the back.

If the cover doesn’t make a potential buyer pause, they will never get the opportunity to even judge the content. With so many books to choose from, a book that might have been a perfect read will have been overlooked simply due to poor cover choice.

Sure, placement and display factor in. If your book is a serious drama with a subdued cover, but is surrounded by chick lit with their bright whites, pinks and limey green covers, yours will stick out like a sore thumb. Just the contrast of color may make your novel appear lifeless or drab, whereas if properly placed it can appear rich and substantive.

The opposite can be true, too. If your book is placed among a sea of subdued covers, if yours is bright and cheery or bold and vivid, yours can capture the eye of a reader walking past.

While much research has been done (and I’m no expert on this topic) about shelf placement and other factors that go into the subconscious influence for purchasing items, there is still no definitive “win.” What might appeal to one person may not be what catches the eye for another. Time of day, time of year, mood and umpteen other factors can all go into what makes one book stand out from another on any particular day.

Much discussion has been had about online stores and electronic books. Even for an online sale, sometimes the cover is all that goes into the decision making process. The ease at which an eBook can be bought, with one click, makes for a fast and easy sale. And if the merchant is recommending a particular book, and the cover grabs you, that might be all that is needed.

How often have you walked past a book and said, “Oooh, that looks good!” without having read one single word, knowing one thing about the author or the subject matter?

I have made a number of purchases just simply from falling in love with a hauntingly beautiful cover. And back before I had an eReader, the feel of the cover, whether matte or glossy, added to the tactile experience I got when choosing a book. If the cover felt wonderful, as well as looked amazing, I was sold. The content was almost irrelevant as long as it was in a genre that I was interested in.

If the makers of computer books wanted to try a different marketing approach aimed at a female audience, they might simply need to make the covers more tantalizing. O’Reilly Media’s books with what I’d consider drab colors and unusual etching-like drawings of various mammals or birds would surely keep me away, even if I wanted to learn more about Drupal.

But, the wonderful thing about covers is that there is such a wide variety of options for any reader. And when a cover, for whatever type of book, has you at hello, it has done its job for the publisher, the author and hopefully the reader.

For years I was drawn in the the girly pinks, greens, yellows and whites of the trade paperback chick lit books. Just seeing my stack of read books was like a work of art as the colors were all cohesive. It was if they were meant to be together always. Everyone knew the minute I walked into a store, if it was pink, I was likely to buy it.

Nowadays, I am drawn in by darker covers, with shades of grey, black, purple and midnight blue. (Just look at the color picks for this site.) But I am still a fan of those light and citrusy colors I once loved exclusively.

While a cover may be my very first reason for choosing a new book or author, I won’t judge a book only by its cover. As I am well aware that beautiful covers can cloak poorly written novels just as easily as ugly covers can hold gems.

Some favorites of mine

I love it for its simplicity, its beauty, its mystery.

I love it for its beauty, its darkness, its pain, its movement.

I love it for its strength, the way the light hits, the burst of color.

I love it for its fragility, its delicacy, its simple beauty.

I love it for its depth, its intrigue, the curiosity it evokes.

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