Monday, August 12, 2013

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

This weekend I took a poll asking, "How criteria do you use when deciding whether or not to read a book by an author new to you?"  I will admit this was a very informal and spur of the moment poll consisting of my two sisters, mother, and a few friends totaling 7 people all together. All of them are avid readers, reading an average of 8 books a month. We all refer books to each other and are always looking for "new to us" authors.

Here are the questions I asked and the average responses:
  1. Do you decide to read a book based on the back cover blurb? - 7 out the 7 said yes. (I agreed.)
  2. Does the title influence your decision? - Nearly everyone said No. (I agreed). One person said only if it was completely ridiculous or over the top.
  3. Do review quotes by best-selling authors printed on the cover influence your decision? - 3 out of the 7 said yes. (I disagreed). One person said no because she knew of two best-selling authors who were friends and had seen review quotes by the authors on each other's books so she felt those types of endorsements are deceiving. (Personally, I couldn't help thinking what are friends for. LOL)
  4. Does the excerpt on the inside of the book before the title page influence your decision? - 5 out of the 7 people said sometimes or yes. (I agreed.) One person said she never reads them. 
  5. Does the cover art influence your decision in any way? - 5 out of the 7 said yes. One person said if the title was catchy and the back cover blurb sounded interesting, she would still give it a try even if it had what she thought was a bad cover. Another said if the cover looked too racy, had anything vampire, werewolf, or witch related on it, she would pass it by. (Yes, this was my 70-something mother.) I agreed with the majority. If the cover art looks like something my eleven year old nephew could put together in Paint, then it makes me wonder what type of editing was done and how well the story was written. Of course being an author myself, I know that in most cases authors have very little say over the cover art so I try not to be too judgmental.
What criteria do you use when deciding whether or not to pick up that book by a new to you author?

22 comments:

  1. Hi Katherine,
    Interesting results. I personally am swayed by the blurb.

    Regards

    Margaret

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    1. Hi Margaret,

      I pretty much make my decision based on the blurb too. It's the first thing I look at.

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  2. Hi Katherine,

    I'm not surprised about the blurb. I still think that is one of the hardest parts about writing a book. For me, a good blurb and cover draw me to a book.

    Warm regards,

    Allison Byers

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    1. Hi Allison,

      I definitely have trouble writing the blurb. I think it's harder than writing the one sentence thru-line.

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  3. For me it's the cover then the blurb. They both have to get my attention or I pass it up.
    Between The Pages

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    1. Hi Lynda,

      Interesting that you look at the cover first. Actually now that I think about it, I probably do too. It's the reason I pick up the book before I even turn it over to look at the blurb. Though I will read the blurb before putting it down if the cover is less than ideal.

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  4. Hi, Katharine,

    Okay, based on the other comments, I'm going to be the oddball. I'm first attracted by the title, especially those that show some humor. Unless I'm looking for a Regency read, which usually has Duke, Marquess, Earl, etc., prominently used on the cover, but even then, humor will draw me before anything else. After the title, I read either the blurb or the first page. If I'm hooked by either, I'll pick up the book. Cover art is almost never a consideration. Neither is the excerpt, which I once read but no longer do. I hope my opinions are helpful to you.

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    1. Hi Ashantay,

      I never really thought about how the title can convey what the book may be about in terms of being humorous, dark, etc. Thanks for stopping by and giving me something to think about. :o)

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  5. Yep, I judge a book by its cover, but unlike your 70 year old mother, I'm drawn to the vampire, werewolf and witch themed covers. lol Then I look at the blurb.

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  6. Hi Karen,

    I like to read the vampire, werewolf, and witch books too. We tell her she's missing some great books but she just laughs and says there's lots of other authors to read. Thanks for dropping by. :o)

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  7. Hi Katherine,
    I'm attracted initially by the cover because you see it even before having a chance to read the blurb. The blurb comes next but is more likely to influence my purchasing decision.

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    1. Hi Alison,

      I never thought that I was influenced by the cover first until Ashantay commented earlier. You both are right in that the cover is what we see first, the thing that makes most of us pick up the book or pass it by. The blurb is really what sells me too once I have the book in hand.

      Delete
  8. The cover may make me pick up a book or read the blurb. If I like the blurb and I'm in an actual bookstore, I read the first page or two. If I'm buying an ebook or a new to me author, I look to goodreads for reviews or comparison to authors I've read.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      You're the only person who mentioned looking at reviews when ebook shopping. I wish I'd thought to include a question in my poll about using reviews or not. It would have been interesting to see the answers.

      Delete
  9. If the cover and title capture my attention then I will read the blurb. If the blurb is good then I will read the book, and not give much consideration to the testimonials.

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    1. I don't give much attention or consideration to the testimonials either. Reading is very subjective just because one author says it's a great book doesn't necessarily mean I'll agree. Like almost everyone who's commented and participated in the poll, I give the most weight to the blurb.

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  10. Hi, Katherine! The blurb is what catches me first, followed by the cover and excerpt. Reviews and cover quotes don't sway me at all.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      So many writers live and die (or should I say laugh and cry) by a good or bad review. To hear that you don't consider them at all is impressive. I have to admit I do take a peek at them if I'm purchasing an ebook by an unknown to me author. I don't read the individual reviews just look to see what the average rating is.

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  11. Like many of the others...cover first, blurb second. The cover catches your eye without any effort. If it doesn't capture my attention, then I probably (and sadly) won't make it to the blurb. Ones that look too cartoonish are an auto-bypass for me, unless I know the book is to be humorous (like The Reluctant Reaper).

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    1. Hi Charlotte,

      I tend to auto-bypass the ones that look too cartoonish too. Once in a while I'll read the blurb, but not usually.

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  12. Covers are nice but rarely the reason why I choose a book. The blurb is even better but, again, not why I'll choose a book. But reading an excerpt, whether at the beginning of the book or available through sampling (ebooks only), is what prompts me to buy a book.

    I don't mind reviews, especially those given by fellow authors. Their opinion matters the most because they're experienced as writers and because they probably write in the same genre as the book I'm about to buy.

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    1. Hi Miriam,

      Good point about reviews written by fellow authors. I never thought about it that way. I usually sample ebooks by authors I'm unfamiliar with before buying. Thanks for stopping by. :o)

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