Do covers matter?

This is Jo, asking, “Do covers matter?”

To you, as a reader. Do you pick up books because of covers, or avoid them because of covers? Do covers affect how you read a book?

I’m ashamed to admit I have to say yes to all three. I know covers often have little to do with the book. I know the author often has zero say. But some covers, especially where the man looks brutal — or like a constipated muppet. Love that! — make it really hard for me to pick the book off the shelf.

It’s nothing to do with what others might think. It’s simply that I don’t want to meet that man inside the covers. I don’t want to spend time with him. I don’t want to know that hard-faced woman. My view of the characters has been polluted before I begin.

Need I mention that I’m a very visual reader?

So, do covers seriously affect you as a reader?

Jo

60 thoughts on “Do covers matter?”

  1. Hi Jo:
    Without a doubt, covers affect how I see a book and largely determine if I will pick it up and make a purchase. (unless the author has been recommended to me)
    In my mind, the cover should tell (at least hint at) the story. If the picture is unbelievable (man with way too many pecks) or poorly done (looks like something a first grader painted) then I don’t give it a second look. Although now that I know the author has little do with the cover, this view is quickly changing.
    I think clear pictures of the hero/heroine on the cover sets the reader up for a fall. I want the author to tell me what the heroine looks like and then allow me to add my own nuances as I (as a reader) see fit. IMHO, a cover can take that way and possibly disappoint.
    If I could have my pick of covers for my book , I wouldn’t put a picture of my heroine on it. I would spear her jeweled blade down through a gold, three-ringed trinity knot. Then, in the background would be a ghosted image of her eye bearing “the mark.” These are the three things that I want my reader to see clearly. The rest they can imagine.
    But what do I like in a cover? So glad you asked… 🙂 I like mysterious ones. The ones that lure me deep within it’s depths, enticing me to discover more. Excellent examples of this, IMHO, are Amelia Atwater-Rhodes “The Kiesha’ra” series, MJ’s Stolen Magic and TMS.
    Bottom line – If I know the author, the cover doesn’t matter (it just may not get to go to the lunchroom with me). If I don’t know the author, the cover makes all the difference after I’ve read the first 10 pages.
    🙂

    Reply
  2. Hi Jo:
    Without a doubt, covers affect how I see a book and largely determine if I will pick it up and make a purchase. (unless the author has been recommended to me)
    In my mind, the cover should tell (at least hint at) the story. If the picture is unbelievable (man with way too many pecks) or poorly done (looks like something a first grader painted) then I don’t give it a second look. Although now that I know the author has little do with the cover, this view is quickly changing.
    I think clear pictures of the hero/heroine on the cover sets the reader up for a fall. I want the author to tell me what the heroine looks like and then allow me to add my own nuances as I (as a reader) see fit. IMHO, a cover can take that way and possibly disappoint.
    If I could have my pick of covers for my book , I wouldn’t put a picture of my heroine on it. I would spear her jeweled blade down through a gold, three-ringed trinity knot. Then, in the background would be a ghosted image of her eye bearing “the mark.” These are the three things that I want my reader to see clearly. The rest they can imagine.
    But what do I like in a cover? So glad you asked… 🙂 I like mysterious ones. The ones that lure me deep within it’s depths, enticing me to discover more. Excellent examples of this, IMHO, are Amelia Atwater-Rhodes “The Kiesha’ra” series, MJ’s Stolen Magic and TMS.
    Bottom line – If I know the author, the cover doesn’t matter (it just may not get to go to the lunchroom with me). If I don’t know the author, the cover makes all the difference after I’ve read the first 10 pages.
    🙂

    Reply
  3. Hi Jo:
    Without a doubt, covers affect how I see a book and largely determine if I will pick it up and make a purchase. (unless the author has been recommended to me)
    In my mind, the cover should tell (at least hint at) the story. If the picture is unbelievable (man with way too many pecks) or poorly done (looks like something a first grader painted) then I don’t give it a second look. Although now that I know the author has little do with the cover, this view is quickly changing.
    I think clear pictures of the hero/heroine on the cover sets the reader up for a fall. I want the author to tell me what the heroine looks like and then allow me to add my own nuances as I (as a reader) see fit. IMHO, a cover can take that way and possibly disappoint.
    If I could have my pick of covers for my book , I wouldn’t put a picture of my heroine on it. I would spear her jeweled blade down through a gold, three-ringed trinity knot. Then, in the background would be a ghosted image of her eye bearing “the mark.” These are the three things that I want my reader to see clearly. The rest they can imagine.
    But what do I like in a cover? So glad you asked… 🙂 I like mysterious ones. The ones that lure me deep within it’s depths, enticing me to discover more. Excellent examples of this, IMHO, are Amelia Atwater-Rhodes “The Kiesha’ra” series, MJ’s Stolen Magic and TMS.
    Bottom line – If I know the author, the cover doesn’t matter (it just may not get to go to the lunchroom with me). If I don’t know the author, the cover makes all the difference after I’ve read the first 10 pages.
    🙂

    Reply
  4. I agree with Nina, if I know and trust the author, covers don’t matter. But as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’m shallow enough to believe a cover with a fornicating couple on it will be about sex, and a cartoon cover ought to mean the book is funny. Covers are all we have to tell a reader about what’s inside. A grabber of a title (I found Pratchett because of the title Wyrd Witches) or something completely different on the cover (I bought a book because of a hologram once) might persuade people to pick up the book and at least read the back copy, which is the next important part of the cover. Wimpy copy on the back–or none at all!–will get the book dumped, too.
    Pat

    Reply
  5. I agree with Nina, if I know and trust the author, covers don’t matter. But as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’m shallow enough to believe a cover with a fornicating couple on it will be about sex, and a cartoon cover ought to mean the book is funny. Covers are all we have to tell a reader about what’s inside. A grabber of a title (I found Pratchett because of the title Wyrd Witches) or something completely different on the cover (I bought a book because of a hologram once) might persuade people to pick up the book and at least read the back copy, which is the next important part of the cover. Wimpy copy on the back–or none at all!–will get the book dumped, too.
    Pat

    Reply
  6. I agree with Nina, if I know and trust the author, covers don’t matter. But as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’m shallow enough to believe a cover with a fornicating couple on it will be about sex, and a cartoon cover ought to mean the book is funny. Covers are all we have to tell a reader about what’s inside. A grabber of a title (I found Pratchett because of the title Wyrd Witches) or something completely different on the cover (I bought a book because of a hologram once) might persuade people to pick up the book and at least read the back copy, which is the next important part of the cover. Wimpy copy on the back–or none at all!–will get the book dumped, too.
    Pat

    Reply
  7. Covers don’t influence WHETHER I read a book, but they often determine WHERE I’m willing to read it. If a book’s cover is tacky or too graphically sexual, I’m a lot less likely to take it to work to read on my lunch hour or take it on a plane. I’m not ashamed of what I read–but sometimes I’m sure ashamed of how it’s packaged!
    And while a good cover doesn’t make me like a book more, there’s something deeply aesthetically satisfying about a beautiful cover that’s well-matched with the book’s contents.
    I’ve been known to pick up a book while browsing because of something eyecatching about its cover, but I always read a few pages to make sure the quality on the inside matches the beautiful packaging!

    Reply
  8. Covers don’t influence WHETHER I read a book, but they often determine WHERE I’m willing to read it. If a book’s cover is tacky or too graphically sexual, I’m a lot less likely to take it to work to read on my lunch hour or take it on a plane. I’m not ashamed of what I read–but sometimes I’m sure ashamed of how it’s packaged!
    And while a good cover doesn’t make me like a book more, there’s something deeply aesthetically satisfying about a beautiful cover that’s well-matched with the book’s contents.
    I’ve been known to pick up a book while browsing because of something eyecatching about its cover, but I always read a few pages to make sure the quality on the inside matches the beautiful packaging!

    Reply
  9. Covers don’t influence WHETHER I read a book, but they often determine WHERE I’m willing to read it. If a book’s cover is tacky or too graphically sexual, I’m a lot less likely to take it to work to read on my lunch hour or take it on a plane. I’m not ashamed of what I read–but sometimes I’m sure ashamed of how it’s packaged!
    And while a good cover doesn’t make me like a book more, there’s something deeply aesthetically satisfying about a beautiful cover that’s well-matched with the book’s contents.
    I’ve been known to pick up a book while browsing because of something eyecatching about its cover, but I always read a few pages to make sure the quality on the inside matches the beautiful packaging!

    Reply
  10. I know it must sound that we’re a whining bunch o’ wenches about our covers, but most readers don’t realize how important a good cover can be in ways that have nothing to do with the book inside.
    If an artist is having an off day, if the art director had an extra painting lying around his office and stuck it on your cover, if your editor left in mid-book and her replacement didn’t bother with follow-up — all those people will still collect their paychecks. However, if the cover is awful, and no one buys the book (particularly if you’re a newbie writer), then it’s the writer’s fault.
    Although my “constipated muppet” (so he shall evermore be) was years and years ago now, I still remember that my sales dropped with that book. It was only my third book; at that time, I had no clout, nor an agent to go to bat for me. Fortunately I rebounded with the next book, but there was still a lot of publisher head-shaking about the reason: was it the story? was it the setting? should I have stayed with the family series I’d begun? Yet not once was the cover considered an issue — Arghh!
    Bookstores and sales representatives (the folks who sell the books to the stores for the publishers) also look at covers in a different way. There signs of favor, signals that the publisher has decided an author shows promise: embossed titles and author names, metallic foils for for the type, fancy tricks like step-backs (the picture inside the front cover.) A bookseller sees these on the sample cover when he/she places an order, thinks that this must be an up-and-coming writer, and orders more. But if it’s a generic cover (or worse), that order may go down.
    Not fair, not fair, but alas, that’s the business side of writing, and it ain’t always pretty.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  11. I know it must sound that we’re a whining bunch o’ wenches about our covers, but most readers don’t realize how important a good cover can be in ways that have nothing to do with the book inside.
    If an artist is having an off day, if the art director had an extra painting lying around his office and stuck it on your cover, if your editor left in mid-book and her replacement didn’t bother with follow-up — all those people will still collect their paychecks. However, if the cover is awful, and no one buys the book (particularly if you’re a newbie writer), then it’s the writer’s fault.
    Although my “constipated muppet” (so he shall evermore be) was years and years ago now, I still remember that my sales dropped with that book. It was only my third book; at that time, I had no clout, nor an agent to go to bat for me. Fortunately I rebounded with the next book, but there was still a lot of publisher head-shaking about the reason: was it the story? was it the setting? should I have stayed with the family series I’d begun? Yet not once was the cover considered an issue — Arghh!
    Bookstores and sales representatives (the folks who sell the books to the stores for the publishers) also look at covers in a different way. There signs of favor, signals that the publisher has decided an author shows promise: embossed titles and author names, metallic foils for for the type, fancy tricks like step-backs (the picture inside the front cover.) A bookseller sees these on the sample cover when he/she places an order, thinks that this must be an up-and-coming writer, and orders more. But if it’s a generic cover (or worse), that order may go down.
    Not fair, not fair, but alas, that’s the business side of writing, and it ain’t always pretty.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  12. I know it must sound that we’re a whining bunch o’ wenches about our covers, but most readers don’t realize how important a good cover can be in ways that have nothing to do with the book inside.
    If an artist is having an off day, if the art director had an extra painting lying around his office and stuck it on your cover, if your editor left in mid-book and her replacement didn’t bother with follow-up — all those people will still collect their paychecks. However, if the cover is awful, and no one buys the book (particularly if you’re a newbie writer), then it’s the writer’s fault.
    Although my “constipated muppet” (so he shall evermore be) was years and years ago now, I still remember that my sales dropped with that book. It was only my third book; at that time, I had no clout, nor an agent to go to bat for me. Fortunately I rebounded with the next book, but there was still a lot of publisher head-shaking about the reason: was it the story? was it the setting? should I have stayed with the family series I’d begun? Yet not once was the cover considered an issue — Arghh!
    Bookstores and sales representatives (the folks who sell the books to the stores for the publishers) also look at covers in a different way. There signs of favor, signals that the publisher has decided an author shows promise: embossed titles and author names, metallic foils for for the type, fancy tricks like step-backs (the picture inside the front cover.) A bookseller sees these on the sample cover when he/she places an order, thinks that this must be an up-and-coming writer, and orders more. But if it’s a generic cover (or worse), that order may go down.
    Not fair, not fair, but alas, that’s the business side of writing, and it ain’t always pretty.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  13. Most of the romances I buy (80-85%)are auto-buys or nearly auto-buys. For these, covers make no difference, although if I find the cover embarassing, it will make a difference where I buy it and where I read it. The clerks at the bookstores I patronize are often students, and I keep a stack of books in my office to read when I have a few free minutes. I am called upon often enough to defend my reading of romance; I have no desire to try to defend covers that perpetuate the worst stereotypes of the genre.
    I do pay more attention to the covers of books by new-to-me authors. A bad cover means that I consider the purchase more carefully. But if a book comes highly recommended from a trusted source and if I like the ending (I always read first the last pages of any book I buy), the cover would not keep me from buying a book.

    Reply
  14. Most of the romances I buy (80-85%)are auto-buys or nearly auto-buys. For these, covers make no difference, although if I find the cover embarassing, it will make a difference where I buy it and where I read it. The clerks at the bookstores I patronize are often students, and I keep a stack of books in my office to read when I have a few free minutes. I am called upon often enough to defend my reading of romance; I have no desire to try to defend covers that perpetuate the worst stereotypes of the genre.
    I do pay more attention to the covers of books by new-to-me authors. A bad cover means that I consider the purchase more carefully. But if a book comes highly recommended from a trusted source and if I like the ending (I always read first the last pages of any book I buy), the cover would not keep me from buying a book.

    Reply
  15. Most of the romances I buy (80-85%)are auto-buys or nearly auto-buys. For these, covers make no difference, although if I find the cover embarassing, it will make a difference where I buy it and where I read it. The clerks at the bookstores I patronize are often students, and I keep a stack of books in my office to read when I have a few free minutes. I am called upon often enough to defend my reading of romance; I have no desire to try to defend covers that perpetuate the worst stereotypes of the genre.
    I do pay more attention to the covers of books by new-to-me authors. A bad cover means that I consider the purchase more carefully. But if a book comes highly recommended from a trusted source and if I like the ending (I always read first the last pages of any book I buy), the cover would not keep me from buying a book.

    Reply
  16. Okay: I have to say again some of the things I have said a million times, elsewhere, about covers.
    I DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO COVERS ANY MORE, because I am older and wiser than I used to be.
    Covers are the disposable wrapping-paper, and the book – which consists of words, not pictures, because we can all read – is the gift. A future edition of the same book, 10 years on, or 25 years, will have a different cover, thank heavens. Would you prefer to be given an exquisite, memorable gift in a really tacky, vulgar, gaudy, kitschy wrapping, or a so-so gift in a beautiful, elegant and sophisticated container? There you are, then. Don’t look at the ^%$*& cover, just ‘taste’ the book.
    I admit I used to be influenced by the covers, till I was about 40. That was precisely why I had never read a romance novel (other than Heyer, who was packaged differently in the UK, as an ‘historical novelist’). I looked at the covers and said ‘yuck!!!!’ I am a highly visual person, in an academic profession, and I would have been embarrassed to be seen with these pictorial, kiddie-covers. It is very difficult to prove a negative, and I think some of the marketing people would be utterly staggered to know how many people do NOT buy the books because they loathe and detest the covers.
    Now I am old, and I don’t care any more: I can defend my leisure reading quite easily, and I know that the authors, bless their hearts, are not guilty of selecting the usually execrable cover ‘art’, so why should they suffer? The covers are still crap, but I know they don’t matter in the wider scheme of things. I should still love to beat some marketing people around the head and shoulders with a large club, though – but then, that’s not only because of the cover-‘art’ of novels. 😉 I always have the urge to beat marketing people around the head.
    I am going to say it once again: the cover should NOT MATTER to a sophisticated reader. Just imagine that the book is bound in brown paper, with the title and author’s name, and the blurb on the back, in plain Arial or Times Roman. Then pick up the book, and start reading some pages. Novels are not about pictures: they are about words. Forget the &^%^$£ pictures: you are not going to frame the wretched picture and hang it on the wall – you are going to read the WORDS in the book. The ghastly cover pictures are ephemeral: they do not matter.
    Whew. I shall go and stick my head under the cold tap now…

    Reply
  17. Okay: I have to say again some of the things I have said a million times, elsewhere, about covers.
    I DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO COVERS ANY MORE, because I am older and wiser than I used to be.
    Covers are the disposable wrapping-paper, and the book – which consists of words, not pictures, because we can all read – is the gift. A future edition of the same book, 10 years on, or 25 years, will have a different cover, thank heavens. Would you prefer to be given an exquisite, memorable gift in a really tacky, vulgar, gaudy, kitschy wrapping, or a so-so gift in a beautiful, elegant and sophisticated container? There you are, then. Don’t look at the ^%$*& cover, just ‘taste’ the book.
    I admit I used to be influenced by the covers, till I was about 40. That was precisely why I had never read a romance novel (other than Heyer, who was packaged differently in the UK, as an ‘historical novelist’). I looked at the covers and said ‘yuck!!!!’ I am a highly visual person, in an academic profession, and I would have been embarrassed to be seen with these pictorial, kiddie-covers. It is very difficult to prove a negative, and I think some of the marketing people would be utterly staggered to know how many people do NOT buy the books because they loathe and detest the covers.
    Now I am old, and I don’t care any more: I can defend my leisure reading quite easily, and I know that the authors, bless their hearts, are not guilty of selecting the usually execrable cover ‘art’, so why should they suffer? The covers are still crap, but I know they don’t matter in the wider scheme of things. I should still love to beat some marketing people around the head and shoulders with a large club, though – but then, that’s not only because of the cover-‘art’ of novels. 😉 I always have the urge to beat marketing people around the head.
    I am going to say it once again: the cover should NOT MATTER to a sophisticated reader. Just imagine that the book is bound in brown paper, with the title and author’s name, and the blurb on the back, in plain Arial or Times Roman. Then pick up the book, and start reading some pages. Novels are not about pictures: they are about words. Forget the &^%^$£ pictures: you are not going to frame the wretched picture and hang it on the wall – you are going to read the WORDS in the book. The ghastly cover pictures are ephemeral: they do not matter.
    Whew. I shall go and stick my head under the cold tap now…

    Reply
  18. Okay: I have to say again some of the things I have said a million times, elsewhere, about covers.
    I DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO COVERS ANY MORE, because I am older and wiser than I used to be.
    Covers are the disposable wrapping-paper, and the book – which consists of words, not pictures, because we can all read – is the gift. A future edition of the same book, 10 years on, or 25 years, will have a different cover, thank heavens. Would you prefer to be given an exquisite, memorable gift in a really tacky, vulgar, gaudy, kitschy wrapping, or a so-so gift in a beautiful, elegant and sophisticated container? There you are, then. Don’t look at the ^%$*& cover, just ‘taste’ the book.
    I admit I used to be influenced by the covers, till I was about 40. That was precisely why I had never read a romance novel (other than Heyer, who was packaged differently in the UK, as an ‘historical novelist’). I looked at the covers and said ‘yuck!!!!’ I am a highly visual person, in an academic profession, and I would have been embarrassed to be seen with these pictorial, kiddie-covers. It is very difficult to prove a negative, and I think some of the marketing people would be utterly staggered to know how many people do NOT buy the books because they loathe and detest the covers.
    Now I am old, and I don’t care any more: I can defend my leisure reading quite easily, and I know that the authors, bless their hearts, are not guilty of selecting the usually execrable cover ‘art’, so why should they suffer? The covers are still crap, but I know they don’t matter in the wider scheme of things. I should still love to beat some marketing people around the head and shoulders with a large club, though – but then, that’s not only because of the cover-‘art’ of novels. 😉 I always have the urge to beat marketing people around the head.
    I am going to say it once again: the cover should NOT MATTER to a sophisticated reader. Just imagine that the book is bound in brown paper, with the title and author’s name, and the blurb on the back, in plain Arial or Times Roman. Then pick up the book, and start reading some pages. Novels are not about pictures: they are about words. Forget the &^%^$£ pictures: you are not going to frame the wretched picture and hang it on the wall – you are going to read the WORDS in the book. The ghastly cover pictures are ephemeral: they do not matter.
    Whew. I shall go and stick my head under the cold tap now…

    Reply
  19. From Loretta:
    When buying books, I don’t let covers influence me. I appreciate a good cover but a bad one won’t drive me away if the story looks interesting and a perusal of a page or two in the middle tells me the prose is up to certain standards. I do not judge by the opening pages because those get worked on the most, and all too often are the best part of the book. Too, perhaps because my bad covers have hurt me so deeply, my first reaction to a bad cover is sympathy for the author…and blame for the artist/designers.
    But Susan/Miranda makes a very important point: The distributors, bookstores, & sales reps do judge books by their covers, which means that covers can and do make or break careers.

    Reply
  20. From Loretta:
    When buying books, I don’t let covers influence me. I appreciate a good cover but a bad one won’t drive me away if the story looks interesting and a perusal of a page or two in the middle tells me the prose is up to certain standards. I do not judge by the opening pages because those get worked on the most, and all too often are the best part of the book. Too, perhaps because my bad covers have hurt me so deeply, my first reaction to a bad cover is sympathy for the author…and blame for the artist/designers.
    But Susan/Miranda makes a very important point: The distributors, bookstores, & sales reps do judge books by their covers, which means that covers can and do make or break careers.

    Reply
  21. From Loretta:
    When buying books, I don’t let covers influence me. I appreciate a good cover but a bad one won’t drive me away if the story looks interesting and a perusal of a page or two in the middle tells me the prose is up to certain standards. I do not judge by the opening pages because those get worked on the most, and all too often are the best part of the book. Too, perhaps because my bad covers have hurt me so deeply, my first reaction to a bad cover is sympathy for the author…and blame for the artist/designers.
    But Susan/Miranda makes a very important point: The distributors, bookstores, & sales reps do judge books by their covers, which means that covers can and do make or break careers.

    Reply
  22. Covers used to influence me more, I think. I used to not read about blondes (it was an evil ex-boyfriend thing.) So if there was a blonde on the front, it was a no go for me. Then some of my auto buy authors started writing about blondes, so I had to get over it. I also used to not read contemporaries and then I read Jennifer Crusie. And I hadn’t really picked up a paranormal, and then MJ Davidson wrote about Betsy … it’s all an evolution.
    Funnily enough, I used to commute on the NYC transit system and the DC metro and I never worried once about what someone thought of my reading material. I’ll admit to being glad about stepbacks for certain books (the original cover of Petals in the Storm for one!) but even if naked Lucien had been front and center without a strategically placed stepback, I’d still be reading about him on the way to class or work. What’s the worst someone can do? Judge me? They can do that based on my outfit or my shoes, too.
    I did rearrange the Border’s sticker to cover the faces of the models on the original of Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens. The picture wasn’t embarrassing, but it just bore no resemblance to the characters and it would distract me if I happened to look at it as I picked up the book.
    I buy so much now based on reviews, word of mouth, authors I like recommending authors they like … the internet has really changed the way I’ve researched and bought my books.

    Reply
  23. Covers used to influence me more, I think. I used to not read about blondes (it was an evil ex-boyfriend thing.) So if there was a blonde on the front, it was a no go for me. Then some of my auto buy authors started writing about blondes, so I had to get over it. I also used to not read contemporaries and then I read Jennifer Crusie. And I hadn’t really picked up a paranormal, and then MJ Davidson wrote about Betsy … it’s all an evolution.
    Funnily enough, I used to commute on the NYC transit system and the DC metro and I never worried once about what someone thought of my reading material. I’ll admit to being glad about stepbacks for certain books (the original cover of Petals in the Storm for one!) but even if naked Lucien had been front and center without a strategically placed stepback, I’d still be reading about him on the way to class or work. What’s the worst someone can do? Judge me? They can do that based on my outfit or my shoes, too.
    I did rearrange the Border’s sticker to cover the faces of the models on the original of Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens. The picture wasn’t embarrassing, but it just bore no resemblance to the characters and it would distract me if I happened to look at it as I picked up the book.
    I buy so much now based on reviews, word of mouth, authors I like recommending authors they like … the internet has really changed the way I’ve researched and bought my books.

    Reply
  24. Covers used to influence me more, I think. I used to not read about blondes (it was an evil ex-boyfriend thing.) So if there was a blonde on the front, it was a no go for me. Then some of my auto buy authors started writing about blondes, so I had to get over it. I also used to not read contemporaries and then I read Jennifer Crusie. And I hadn’t really picked up a paranormal, and then MJ Davidson wrote about Betsy … it’s all an evolution.
    Funnily enough, I used to commute on the NYC transit system and the DC metro and I never worried once about what someone thought of my reading material. I’ll admit to being glad about stepbacks for certain books (the original cover of Petals in the Storm for one!) but even if naked Lucien had been front and center without a strategically placed stepback, I’d still be reading about him on the way to class or work. What’s the worst someone can do? Judge me? They can do that based on my outfit or my shoes, too.
    I did rearrange the Border’s sticker to cover the faces of the models on the original of Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens. The picture wasn’t embarrassing, but it just bore no resemblance to the characters and it would distract me if I happened to look at it as I picked up the book.
    I buy so much now based on reviews, word of mouth, authors I like recommending authors they like … the internet has really changed the way I’ve researched and bought my books.

    Reply
  25. At the risk of having my head put under the tap by AgTigress ;), when I’m shopping at a book store the cover matters. When I have dozens of authors to choose from, I can’t start at the As and read a few pages in each book to decide which to buy. So I scan. The title catches me first, then the cover, then the back copy. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t control any of that, as far as I know. And I prefer sensual, rather than overtly naked/sexual covers, or “location” covers – a misty castle, or a gazebo in the sunshine…
    However, I currently buy 75% or so of my books online. I first buy autobuy authors, then I look at recommendations. Before I found these author blogs, I would often browse the Amazon recommendations for me, and have found several new authors that way. I have a few times bought books because an author I liked had a blurb on it, although not often. In those cases, the cover isn’t the deciding factor but it still influences me. Recommendations from authors and commenters on the author blogs have led me to buy books by a dozen or more new authors, and I’ve yet to be disappointed.
    One of my favorite ways to discover new authors is through anthologies. I love anthologies. I love them enough to ignore the covers.

    Reply
  26. At the risk of having my head put under the tap by AgTigress ;), when I’m shopping at a book store the cover matters. When I have dozens of authors to choose from, I can’t start at the As and read a few pages in each book to decide which to buy. So I scan. The title catches me first, then the cover, then the back copy. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t control any of that, as far as I know. And I prefer sensual, rather than overtly naked/sexual covers, or “location” covers – a misty castle, or a gazebo in the sunshine…
    However, I currently buy 75% or so of my books online. I first buy autobuy authors, then I look at recommendations. Before I found these author blogs, I would often browse the Amazon recommendations for me, and have found several new authors that way. I have a few times bought books because an author I liked had a blurb on it, although not often. In those cases, the cover isn’t the deciding factor but it still influences me. Recommendations from authors and commenters on the author blogs have led me to buy books by a dozen or more new authors, and I’ve yet to be disappointed.
    One of my favorite ways to discover new authors is through anthologies. I love anthologies. I love them enough to ignore the covers.

    Reply
  27. At the risk of having my head put under the tap by AgTigress ;), when I’m shopping at a book store the cover matters. When I have dozens of authors to choose from, I can’t start at the As and read a few pages in each book to decide which to buy. So I scan. The title catches me first, then the cover, then the back copy. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t control any of that, as far as I know. And I prefer sensual, rather than overtly naked/sexual covers, or “location” covers – a misty castle, or a gazebo in the sunshine…
    However, I currently buy 75% or so of my books online. I first buy autobuy authors, then I look at recommendations. Before I found these author blogs, I would often browse the Amazon recommendations for me, and have found several new authors that way. I have a few times bought books because an author I liked had a blurb on it, although not often. In those cases, the cover isn’t the deciding factor but it still influences me. Recommendations from authors and commenters on the author blogs have led me to buy books by a dozen or more new authors, and I’ve yet to be disappointed.
    One of my favorite ways to discover new authors is through anthologies. I love anthologies. I love them enough to ignore the covers.

    Reply
  28. tal sez:
    Sometimes you DO buy a book just to frame the cover and hang it on the wall.
    If it’s a Thomas Canty cover. Which, on a romance, it very seldom is.
    Am I the only person who has any of those plastic/leather/fabric book covers? I have about half a dozen of them, including a hardback-sized one with Charles Wysocki’s “Frederick the Literate” on the front.
    I’m not influenced by covers, though occasionally I’ll buy something because of a really cool title. Usually a quotation from “Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song.” I’m mainly influenced by recommendations, especially from people whom I know share my tastes. Also by the “if you like X, you’ll like Y,” type of recommendation, although I nearly missed out on a few really good dark fantasies because they were compared to Laurell K. Hamilton, whom I can do without.
    What really annoys me are the “in the tradition of” jacket blurbs, especially when the authors mentioned don’t even FORM a tradition! If I had a nickel for every book blurbed as “in the tradition of LORD OF THE RINGS” that was nothing like Tolkien, I’d be able to buy the Tigress that new laptop she needs.
    MY first published novel is going to be blurbed as “In the tradition of Angela Thirkell and Mickey Spillane!”

    Reply
  29. tal sez:
    Sometimes you DO buy a book just to frame the cover and hang it on the wall.
    If it’s a Thomas Canty cover. Which, on a romance, it very seldom is.
    Am I the only person who has any of those plastic/leather/fabric book covers? I have about half a dozen of them, including a hardback-sized one with Charles Wysocki’s “Frederick the Literate” on the front.
    I’m not influenced by covers, though occasionally I’ll buy something because of a really cool title. Usually a quotation from “Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song.” I’m mainly influenced by recommendations, especially from people whom I know share my tastes. Also by the “if you like X, you’ll like Y,” type of recommendation, although I nearly missed out on a few really good dark fantasies because they were compared to Laurell K. Hamilton, whom I can do without.
    What really annoys me are the “in the tradition of” jacket blurbs, especially when the authors mentioned don’t even FORM a tradition! If I had a nickel for every book blurbed as “in the tradition of LORD OF THE RINGS” that was nothing like Tolkien, I’d be able to buy the Tigress that new laptop she needs.
    MY first published novel is going to be blurbed as “In the tradition of Angela Thirkell and Mickey Spillane!”

    Reply
  30. tal sez:
    Sometimes you DO buy a book just to frame the cover and hang it on the wall.
    If it’s a Thomas Canty cover. Which, on a romance, it very seldom is.
    Am I the only person who has any of those plastic/leather/fabric book covers? I have about half a dozen of them, including a hardback-sized one with Charles Wysocki’s “Frederick the Literate” on the front.
    I’m not influenced by covers, though occasionally I’ll buy something because of a really cool title. Usually a quotation from “Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song.” I’m mainly influenced by recommendations, especially from people whom I know share my tastes. Also by the “if you like X, you’ll like Y,” type of recommendation, although I nearly missed out on a few really good dark fantasies because they were compared to Laurell K. Hamilton, whom I can do without.
    What really annoys me are the “in the tradition of” jacket blurbs, especially when the authors mentioned don’t even FORM a tradition! If I had a nickel for every book blurbed as “in the tradition of LORD OF THE RINGS” that was nothing like Tolkien, I’d be able to buy the Tigress that new laptop she needs.
    MY first published novel is going to be blurbed as “In the tradition of Angela Thirkell and Mickey Spillane!”

    Reply
  31. Most of my book purchases are based on the author – I’ve already read books by her, enjoyed them, and want to read more by her. Occasionally, their books will have a cover that makes me wince internally, but that won’t stop me from buying it.
    However, I’m sure that covers have influenced my purchases – particularly with new to me authors. I’ll pick up a book and read the back blurb because the cover appealed to me in some way – it was pretty – it screamed English historical – it had a cowboy on it – etc. And, I’m sure I’ve missed good books because the cover was so ugly to me that I didn’t bother to pick it up and read the back copy.
    Once I start reading a book, what’s on the cover no longer influences my reading experience. I may choose not to read a book with a garish cover on an airplane, etc, but it won’t bug me as I read it.
    I’ve never met a person who said she preferred sexy or clinch covers, but they MUST sell better, so some people must like them. All I can think of is that they have 2.2 seconds to find a book to buy, and the clinch covers tell them it’s a sexy historical, and that’s what they want.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  32. Most of my book purchases are based on the author – I’ve already read books by her, enjoyed them, and want to read more by her. Occasionally, their books will have a cover that makes me wince internally, but that won’t stop me from buying it.
    However, I’m sure that covers have influenced my purchases – particularly with new to me authors. I’ll pick up a book and read the back blurb because the cover appealed to me in some way – it was pretty – it screamed English historical – it had a cowboy on it – etc. And, I’m sure I’ve missed good books because the cover was so ugly to me that I didn’t bother to pick it up and read the back copy.
    Once I start reading a book, what’s on the cover no longer influences my reading experience. I may choose not to read a book with a garish cover on an airplane, etc, but it won’t bug me as I read it.
    I’ve never met a person who said she preferred sexy or clinch covers, but they MUST sell better, so some people must like them. All I can think of is that they have 2.2 seconds to find a book to buy, and the clinch covers tell them it’s a sexy historical, and that’s what they want.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  33. Most of my book purchases are based on the author – I’ve already read books by her, enjoyed them, and want to read more by her. Occasionally, their books will have a cover that makes me wince internally, but that won’t stop me from buying it.
    However, I’m sure that covers have influenced my purchases – particularly with new to me authors. I’ll pick up a book and read the back blurb because the cover appealed to me in some way – it was pretty – it screamed English historical – it had a cowboy on it – etc. And, I’m sure I’ve missed good books because the cover was so ugly to me that I didn’t bother to pick it up and read the back copy.
    Once I start reading a book, what’s on the cover no longer influences my reading experience. I may choose not to read a book with a garish cover on an airplane, etc, but it won’t bug me as I read it.
    I’ve never met a person who said she preferred sexy or clinch covers, but they MUST sell better, so some people must like them. All I can think of is that they have 2.2 seconds to find a book to buy, and the clinch covers tell them it’s a sexy historical, and that’s what they want.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  34. tal sez:
    In one of the prior discussions of the subject mentioned by the Tigress, someone pointed out that the covers on romance novels were originally designed to appeal not to the readers but to the truck drivers for grocery-chain warehouses whose job it was to shelve the books!

    Reply
  35. tal sez:
    In one of the prior discussions of the subject mentioned by the Tigress, someone pointed out that the covers on romance novels were originally designed to appeal not to the readers but to the truck drivers for grocery-chain warehouses whose job it was to shelve the books!

    Reply
  36. tal sez:
    In one of the prior discussions of the subject mentioned by the Tigress, someone pointed out that the covers on romance novels were originally designed to appeal not to the readers but to the truck drivers for grocery-chain warehouses whose job it was to shelve the books!

    Reply
  37. Since most of my buys are auto-buys of tried and true authors, the covers don’t influence me much. However, when I do have the extra money to get something else, I tend to stray from those that I have conceal from my kids. There have been exceptions, but very few.
    What attracts me are romantic poses (not sexy ones) and settings, or beautiful scenes, inanimate or not. I like covers like Pat’s Magic series, Jo’s medieval reprints, Edith’s C’s sequels, Miranda’s Golden/Silver Lord, etc. Those covers will get me to pick up a book and read its back copy, which better have something to say about what’s in the book, not just a sentence that tells me practically nothing.

    Reply
  38. Since most of my buys are auto-buys of tried and true authors, the covers don’t influence me much. However, when I do have the extra money to get something else, I tend to stray from those that I have conceal from my kids. There have been exceptions, but very few.
    What attracts me are romantic poses (not sexy ones) and settings, or beautiful scenes, inanimate or not. I like covers like Pat’s Magic series, Jo’s medieval reprints, Edith’s C’s sequels, Miranda’s Golden/Silver Lord, etc. Those covers will get me to pick up a book and read its back copy, which better have something to say about what’s in the book, not just a sentence that tells me practically nothing.

    Reply
  39. Since most of my buys are auto-buys of tried and true authors, the covers don’t influence me much. However, when I do have the extra money to get something else, I tend to stray from those that I have conceal from my kids. There have been exceptions, but very few.
    What attracts me are romantic poses (not sexy ones) and settings, or beautiful scenes, inanimate or not. I like covers like Pat’s Magic series, Jo’s medieval reprints, Edith’s C’s sequels, Miranda’s Golden/Silver Lord, etc. Those covers will get me to pick up a book and read its back copy, which better have something to say about what’s in the book, not just a sentence that tells me practically nothing.

    Reply
  40. Like a few others have stated, I read my favorite authors no matter what the cover looks like. Occassionly in the book store when I am trying to find something new, I look to the cover for my initial interest but it is always the back copy that makes my decision. I also like to know who my favorite author enjoys reading. This has helped me find new authors.

    Reply
  41. Like a few others have stated, I read my favorite authors no matter what the cover looks like. Occassionly in the book store when I am trying to find something new, I look to the cover for my initial interest but it is always the back copy that makes my decision. I also like to know who my favorite author enjoys reading. This has helped me find new authors.

    Reply
  42. Like a few others have stated, I read my favorite authors no matter what the cover looks like. Occassionly in the book store when I am trying to find something new, I look to the cover for my initial interest but it is always the back copy that makes my decision. I also like to know who my favorite author enjoys reading. This has helped me find new authors.

    Reply
  43. michelle said “All I can think of is that they have 2.2 seconds to find a book to buy, and the clinch covers tell them it’s a sexy historical, and that’s what they want.”
    I do think this is a lot to do with it. So many covers are vague, ambiguous, or even deceptive that readers trust the clinch. They can be pretty sure that no one’s going to put a clinch in flowing garments on a contemporary, chick lit, or women’s fiction book.
    The down side is that for many people the clinch signals “junk.”
    Kensington once tried using non-clinches on their historicals and some of them were gorgeous, elegant covers suggesting the complexities of the book etc etc. I understand that sales went down, so they changed.
    This was one of them. (Medieval, BTW.)
    http://members.shaw.ca/jobev/tsr.jpg
    Jo

    Reply
  44. michelle said “All I can think of is that they have 2.2 seconds to find a book to buy, and the clinch covers tell them it’s a sexy historical, and that’s what they want.”
    I do think this is a lot to do with it. So many covers are vague, ambiguous, or even deceptive that readers trust the clinch. They can be pretty sure that no one’s going to put a clinch in flowing garments on a contemporary, chick lit, or women’s fiction book.
    The down side is that for many people the clinch signals “junk.”
    Kensington once tried using non-clinches on their historicals and some of them were gorgeous, elegant covers suggesting the complexities of the book etc etc. I understand that sales went down, so they changed.
    This was one of them. (Medieval, BTW.)
    http://members.shaw.ca/jobev/tsr.jpg
    Jo

    Reply
  45. michelle said “All I can think of is that they have 2.2 seconds to find a book to buy, and the clinch covers tell them it’s a sexy historical, and that’s what they want.”
    I do think this is a lot to do with it. So many covers are vague, ambiguous, or even deceptive that readers trust the clinch. They can be pretty sure that no one’s going to put a clinch in flowing garments on a contemporary, chick lit, or women’s fiction book.
    The down side is that for many people the clinch signals “junk.”
    Kensington once tried using non-clinches on their historicals and some of them were gorgeous, elegant covers suggesting the complexities of the book etc etc. I understand that sales went down, so they changed.
    This was one of them. (Medieval, BTW.)
    http://members.shaw.ca/jobev/tsr.jpg
    Jo

    Reply
  46. That’s a beautiful cover. It would make me pick up the book, but I guess the statistics prove that I’m in the minority.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  47. That’s a beautiful cover. It would make me pick up the book, but I guess the statistics prove that I’m in the minority.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  48. That’s a beautiful cover. It would make me pick up the book, but I guess the statistics prove that I’m in the minority.
    -Michelle

    Reply
  49. Funny enough Agent Kristen has been talking covers on her blog.
    Auto-buys aside, covers are a huge influence on getting me to pick up a new-to-me author. But when it comes to book buying, I’m also a browser. =)

    Reply
  50. Funny enough Agent Kristen has been talking covers on her blog.
    Auto-buys aside, covers are a huge influence on getting me to pick up a new-to-me author. But when it comes to book buying, I’m also a browser. =)

    Reply
  51. Funny enough Agent Kristen has been talking covers on her blog.
    Auto-buys aside, covers are a huge influence on getting me to pick up a new-to-me author. But when it comes to book buying, I’m also a browser. =)

    Reply
  52. Covers matter to me unless I just really enjoy the author and then I could care less what it looks like on the outside I’m just itching to read it but if I’m looking to start reading a new author then yes the covers to some seem to draw you to them. I like it when the pictures on the covers look true to the charters and the settings go with the story.
    Sweetness

    Reply
  53. Covers matter to me unless I just really enjoy the author and then I could care less what it looks like on the outside I’m just itching to read it but if I’m looking to start reading a new author then yes the covers to some seem to draw you to them. I like it when the pictures on the covers look true to the charters and the settings go with the story.
    Sweetness

    Reply
  54. Covers matter to me unless I just really enjoy the author and then I could care less what it looks like on the outside I’m just itching to read it but if I’m looking to start reading a new author then yes the covers to some seem to draw you to them. I like it when the pictures on the covers look true to the charters and the settings go with the story.
    Sweetness

    Reply
  55. If the author is one of my automatic buy ones, the cover is 100% irrelevant in my purchase decision, but as many others have said, it definitely affects where I read it!
    I was so much happier when the covers were done so they were pretty, or romantic, and often without any people, certainly no “clinches”. I get so tired of defending what I read, and the covers often make people assume that its trash. Sigh.

    Reply
  56. If the author is one of my automatic buy ones, the cover is 100% irrelevant in my purchase decision, but as many others have said, it definitely affects where I read it!
    I was so much happier when the covers were done so they were pretty, or romantic, and often without any people, certainly no “clinches”. I get so tired of defending what I read, and the covers often make people assume that its trash. Sigh.

    Reply
  57. If the author is one of my automatic buy ones, the cover is 100% irrelevant in my purchase decision, but as many others have said, it definitely affects where I read it!
    I was so much happier when the covers were done so they were pretty, or romantic, and often without any people, certainly no “clinches”. I get so tired of defending what I read, and the covers often make people assume that its trash. Sigh.

    Reply

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