This week’s question comes from Julie, who asks:
I definitely judge a book by its cover. I mostly buy my books from the used market. More often from thrift stores than from actual book stores. Paperbacks generally run for 50 cents and are arranged in chaos. What are the factors in buying a book for 50 cents? Recognizable authors, catchy titles, and if when you pull the book out it catches your eye, well it is probably coming home with you.
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.?
Does cover eat make me enjoy the story more? Generally not. If a book cover is plain or even garish it doesn't detract from the words on the page once I am reading it (though it may detract from me picking it up in the first place.) But there is absolutely nothing I hate more than reading a story and flipping to the cover to discover that the picture does not reflect the story accurately. I rarely see a character's physicality in my mind and often look to the cover for clues. I am sure you can imagine how infuriating it is to turn there and know that they didn't get it right.
Someone, somewhere, recently asked monetary issues aside what is your favorite type of binding. I have always preferred trade paperback books. I like how the wider expanse feels in my hands. Sometimes when I am reading a mass market paperback I feel it cramping in my wrists. Even though we aren't supposed to consider money now, I think money has always been a main factor in my preference of softcovers. Why buy one book when you can buy four? I have recently discovered that I prefer hardcovers for traveling. But mostly I just generally enjoy books. I enjoy looking at them, touching them, flipping the pages.
Currently I am reading two books; one which the cover is helping me enjoy the book and one which isn't.
The cover for Atlas Shrugged gives little to no details about the book but every time I close it I can't help but stare at the cover.
I try to figure out what the images on the cover mean and how they relate to what I have just read in the text. The image on the right hand side that looks like a map is particularly intriguing. My eye races over it watching the plot unroll across the shapes and lines.
In contrast, Artemis Fowl is sparkling and shiny. It literally looks like a jewel of a book.
As far as purchase appeal, this is one I would definitely grab. (If you are intending to do the same Amazon has a great price on this book right now. Only $2.99!!!) But as far as reader enjoyability, this cover adds NOTHING to the experience of reading the book. There is no shutting the book and musing over the future of the characters and what events will lead them there. Not induced by the cover at least!
Do you have a response to either of these covers? Share it with me!