Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

How Much Do Covers Influence Your Book Picks?

February 27th, 2010 by Debbie's World of Books

I’ve been thinking a lot about how covers influence my book picks recently and I realized what a cover whore I am.  Covers play a huge part in me randomly picking up a book even though I know a lot of book covers do not accurately portray what a book is about.

I recently finished reading Circle of Friends Book V: Heather by L. Diane Wolfe.  I really enjoyed it but I thought it was a shame her book covers were not better.  If I did not already know the series this is definitely not a cover that would have prompted me to pick up the book in the store.  It reminds me of those cheesy computer characters on the cover.  What do you think?

thecircleoffriendsbookvheathercircleoffriendssarah

Another recent cover that did not impress me is the recently revealed cover of the Hunger Games book 3.  It’s a good thing I know and love this series already.  If I just saw this book on the book shelf I would not have picked it up.

Mockingjay

On the opposite end I love this cover but the book blurb doesn’t sound like something I would be interested in. Yet I’m tempted to check it out just because of the cover.

banished

Then I read an article in Entertainment Weekly called “Got a Plus-Size Heroine? Use a Skinny Cover Model!” and started wondering would people be turned off if a book had a plus sized model on it?  I’d like to think that having a plus-sized model on these covers wouldn’t turn me off but honestly does the way a cover model looks affect whether or not you pick up a book if you have heard nothing about a book before?

Here are a couple samples the EW article mentions:

lilians-story

According to EW the main character is supposed to be an obese loner.

size14isnotfateither

Even when I was working out a lot at size 14 my arms never looked like that.

pleasureforpleasure

The main character was dubbed the “Scottish Sausage” due to her “ample figure”.  Boy I wish my figure was that ample.

takeme

I loved EW’s caption for this one. “Take us to a place where this body is deemed plus-size. Yeah, right.”

This kind of of falls in along with the controversy about why there are not more minorities portrayed out book covers even when the main character is a minority.  Please be honest, I know most of us would like to say the image on a book cover would not make a difference in picking up a book but does it really?

Here is a recent example of a cover change after some uproar about the cover model for Liar by Justine Larbalestier.

liar

Neither cover actually draws me into this book and I wouldn’t have picked it up either way.

Another example of a cover change after some controversy is Jaclyn Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass book.

Original Cover

magicunderglassOld

New Cover

magicunderglassNew

This wasn’t a book that really interested me based on the description but if I saw both books sitting on a book shelf the original cover would have tempted me to pick it up to read the book blurb where as the new cover would not.  I don’t think it’s the ethnicity of the cover model, I just find the new cover boring to look at.  What about you?

Posted in Books

17 Responses

  1. Heidi V.

    I wouldn’t have picked Patient Zero but the cover pulled me in. I’m going to have to check out circle of friends, if I saw the cover I might have passed them up.

  2. Wrighty

    This is always a great topic and I am fascinated by covers too. If I found one I liked it wouldn’t determine if I got the book but I would pick it up and find out more about it.

    I agree with so many of your comments. The Circle of Friends covers are very boring and I wasn’t that impressed with Mockingjay either although I did like the color and the meaning behind it (love that series!). Banished would get my attention though. I hadn’t seen the new version of Magic Under Glass yet but I think the first one is more colorful. I do like when the covers are more accurate, at least for the major details. The Entertainment Weekly examples are great examples. Those models aren’t ample, plus sized or even retaining water except maybe in Hollywood! I would much rather see more realistic figure but with a spectacular design, amazing colors and a terrific title.

  3. StephTheBookworm

    This is a great post! I definitely agree that a cover can make or break a book. Of course, I’d like to think I don’t judge books by their covers, but we all day innately, I believe. If a book has a really attractive or interesting cover, I’m definitely more prone to pick it up and take more interest in it at the library or B&N. For example, I’ve been dying to read the book Fallen, though I don’t know much about the book itself. The cover is so cool though, and has really drawn me in.

  4. Terry Lynn Johnson

    All the Hunger Games covers sort of sucked, I think, but after reading the hype on book blogs, I’m glad I picked it up. Covers are a huge part of why I purchase a new book. Hush, hush being a fine example – I didn’t even really know what it was about, but had to read it.

  5. L. Diane Wolfe

    Since I do know how much time goes into the cover art for my books, I guess I can appreciate them more. First and fourth are the mose beautiful.

    It’s interesting what catches everyone’s eye. Many YA books feature a real person but only showing part of them – just arms, half of body, etc. – and I find those really boring. I grew up reading science fiction, so covers with extensive artwork always capture my attention first.

    And I did see those covers in our Entertainment Weekly this week! Three are Meg Cabot books, too…

  6. Katy

    Covers sometimes do make a difference for me. I know that’s silly when the cover often has nothing to do with the inside, but certain covers will turn me off (I dislike the standard romance novel cover with guy and girl grappling with each other on front) and awesome covers will draw me to them. It does annoy me when the cover makes no sense after you read the book. Sometimes I’ll pick an edition of a particular book that has the more attractive cover, but for the most part my book choices rely more on the blurb and reviews than on the cover.

  7. Angela

    Oh, I think covers matter a lot. Great post BTW. I find it hard to sell books with bad covers, even when they are really great books. And I know books with good covers are way higher in my TBR pile, unless I know the series or it has come to me highly recommended. Sometimes it seems that the cover bears no relation to the book. Sometimes you want to wrap it in brown paper. Often the book has another cover in other countries that are far, far better.

  8. Reyna

    I also am effected by covers. I think that if I am at a book store, and see a book that I have never heard of before, but love the cover, I am more likely to pick it up and buy it rather than if it was a book that had an unattractive cover.

    For Magic Under Glass, I agree that the first cover was more visually interesting, the second cover seems like one that would be seen on so many other covers. I think that it would be nice if the first cover was kept the same, just the ethnic of the girl was changed.

    Great discussion!

  9. dsuzuki

    Heidi-I also picked up Patient Zero based on the cover drawing me in. I hope you will check out Circle of Friends. It’s a fun series.

    Wrighty/Stephthebookworm-Yes, I think book covers are so important especially for books that don’t initially get a lot of buzz so they need something to make people pick it up and read the book blurb.

    Terry-I agree that all of the HG covers weren’t that great. The Hush, Hush cover was what first caught my interest in that book too.

    L. Diane Wolfe-I don’t want to sound like I don’t appreciate all the hard work that goes into book covers. I just think it’s such a shame when I come across books like yours that I really enjoyed but I feel like the covers are not ones that will draw a lot of attention. I never noticed the trend of covers showing just partial body parts until you mentioned it. I wonder why that is the trend nowadays?

    Katy-I’m the same about sometimes picking an edition of a book with a more attractive cover. I was saying awhile back I much prefer the UK version of the Graceling cover over the US edition.

    Angela-I love seeing covers of the same book from different countries. It’s interesting to see how much they differ.

  10. L. Diane Wolfe

    Oh I understand! At least you really like the inside.

    Not sure where the body parts trend started. Maybe with The Gossip Girl series? And it just got closer to the body from that point?

  11. Michelle

    Great post! For me the cover can capture my attention (who doesn’t like pretty covers) but if the synopsis doesn’t sound good there’s no deal. Sometimes I read GREAT books with no so cute covers and I ask myself; WHY this book doesn’t have a pretty cover? Also I read books with GREAT cover that I didn’t enjoy like: Hush Hush for example.

    Peace
    Michelle

  12. Pam

    I didn’t read a lot of books this year until later because of the cover. I despise people on my cover in general so the whole cover model thing isn’t a big deal for me.

  13. NotNessie

    Great post! Book covers have a huge influence on whether or not I pick up a book to read. I’m not a big fan of any of these either.

    The cover of Banished looks like maybe it should belong to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

  14. kay

    Sadly, book covers do matter a lot! Especially in a bookstore, where they are the first information you receive from a book.

    I think I can be honest though when I say that a plus-size model or a POC model won’t influence my choice, BUT, I will be influenced by the model’s attractiveness. Also, some of the books I judge are romance novels or covers similar to those. Couples making out on the cover (like those two you pointed out here) or shirtless men really don’t do it for me when it comes to book cover!

  15. Emma Hox

    I almost always first pick up a book because the cover intrigues me, but it is the synopsis on the back and the first page that make me buy the book.

  16. Michelle

    The cover of a book doesn’t really matter all that much to me. I mean, I like something aesthetically pleasing but when it comes down to it I’m reading a book because of the plot and characters than what the cover looks like. Will a good book cover compell me to pick up a book that I otherwise wouldn’t sure sometimes, but so will a title.

  17. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    I love strong and vibrant book covers…those are the ones that gain my initial attraction, but if the synopsis or a few pages don’t grab me…then I put it back down.

    I hope you’ll consider joining my National Poetry Month blog tour; here’s some info: http://www.savvyverseandwit.com/2010/03/call-for-bloggers-to-celebrate-national.html

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