Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yes, You Can Sell A Book By It's Cover

I just saw the cover to "Blackbirds" by Chuck Wendig-- and now I want to read this book. All it takes is that cover and the one-line blurb posted at Angry Robot,  Meet Miriam Black. She knows how you’re going to die. And when. It’s now. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. In stores and online in May 2012, -- and I'm sold. Isn't it gorgeous?

But I've always been a sucker for a good cover-- which is probably why I like fantasy so much. There's nothing better than reading a good book and pausing to look at the cover; something I miss when I read a book on my eReader.

I just got "Alloy of Law" by Brandon Sanderson in the mail and the cover is awesome in person, though I would have read the book if it was wrapped in a brown paper bag. But, as with "Blackbirds," I can be persuaded to pick up a book almost entirely on the merits of its cover; the last such book being "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" (which was unfortunately not as compelling inside as I had hoped).

I find that I'm often drawn to covers that have a gauzy, ethereal style or bright splashes of color-- which presents a problem in that I'm not always in tune with the story that goes with the cover. YA fiction seems to have some of the most striking covers but I'm not always too interested in what follows.  The title of "The Treachery of Beautiful Things" seem really appropriate in this context-- don't you think?

When I was younger I was fascinated by the covers to "The Snow Queen" and "The Summer Queen" by Joan D. Vinge-- I still think they're fantastic.

The downside to my visual preferences is that when I see an unappealing book cover I immediately pass judgement on the book behind the facade. Self publishing has produced some really unfortunate examples.

I kind of feel bad for pointing that out....but what is going on with the strange silhouettes and the floating, disembodied suit of armor? And the middle one? I think I'm actually a little more put off by the title.

But self-publishing doesn't have a bad-cover monopoly. Here are a few that caught my eye that went through the traditional publishing process.

I'm not sure what's going on here. Is she feeding him a freakishly large strawberry?

What happened to Wonder Woman?

I've picked this up a few times but I'm always put off by the cover-- it looks like bad Photoshop. (A shame because I think the book might actually be pretty good-- I think this is one for the eReader).

I admit it, I'm shamelessly superficial. I should know better because I've read many, many books that don't live up to their covers-- and vice versa.  How about you? Do you shop by book cover, or are you more evolved than that?


Wilson said...

Spaceship. Because I dig space opera, my sci-fi books must have spaceships on it. And because my only source of sci-fi books is from the local 2nd hand thrift shop, if the cover doesn't that, I won't get it >_<

SQT said...

I'll remember that. :)

Jocelyn said...

I actually like that zany Wonder Woman cover best of anything you've posted--probably because it's so "off" as to be hilarious. I do like the black-and-white graphic appeal of the BLACKBIRDS cover, though...

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

I tend to judge by book spine first, since most of the places I shop have books crammed in wall to wall, so it's hard to get a look at the cover straight away.

Most paranormal romance puts me off by the cover (as if the content wouldn't do that anyways, hehe)

Jessica ( frellathon ) said...

I totally agree covers can win me over. I've picked up books just because of the cover Infected is one but many others as well.

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

I saw the BLACKBIRDS cover on Chuck's blog and was immediately hooked. That artist is the same one who did ZOO CITY--which I'm currently reading.

Great stuff.

Sullivan McPig said...

Everyone seems crazy about the cover of "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer", but I really do not like it, I'll confess.

As for Black Birds: it feels very seventies to me. This might be because I have a comic dating from that era where the lead character has the same kind of face (and drawn in the same style) and the story features lots of birds as well.

Charles Gramlich said...

Covers may make me pick up a book but they don't make me buy it. I always read the first few paragraphs and the information about the book on the back before I buy. If there is a book with two different covers at the same price, I may buy the one that has the better cover, but otherwise I'm not much influenced by covers.

Linds said...

I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to book covers. If it doesn't look that great on the outside, I tend to overlook it, whether it is merited or not. That said, while a good cover goes a long way towards an impulse buy, the words have to seal the deal.

Blackbirds cover is very striking and rather awesome. I rather like the style.

SQT-What about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was disappointing? I've seen the book around blogs and have been toying over whether to read it or skip it, I'm curious about your thoughts...

SQT said...

Jocelyn- The WW cover *is* funny. I'm just not sure what they were thinking.

Jamie-- I pass on a lot of paranormal romances too. They look so cheesy.

Jessica-- "Infected" does have a cool cover.

Stephanie-- I've seen a lot of buzz over the "Blackbirds" cover, so we're not the only people who love this stuff.

Sullivan-- Nothing is going to appeal to everyone, but I do think the Mara Dyer cover is striking. And I can see where you're going with the "Blackbirds" cover-- she does have some big 70's hair.

Charles-- I don't always buy based on the cover, but it definitely influences whether or not I'll pick up a book in the first place.

Linds- To me the Mara Dyer book fell apart around the middle. It started off with a good mystery that seemed like it might have a good dose of Gothic horror-- then it turned into your typical angsty teen romance. I couldn't get through the middle section, which took a huge detour from the tone of the earlier chapters, to see if the book would get back on track because it just got too irritating.

Elfy said...

The cover has to catch your eye in the first place unless it's by an author you're already aware of. I always loved the lunacy of Josh Kirby's Discworld covers and I also like Kidby's covers for the same series. I thought Scott Fischer did a great job with Jim C. Hines' Princess series covers. My favourite covers ever were the Don Maitz covers for Dave Duncan's A Man of His Word series, they occasionally release new versions of those, unfortunately without Maitz's exquisite artwork. I can't remember the artist, but the first Bridge of Birds paperback I picked up had the most stunning coverart. My favourite upcoming is for Seanan McGuire's Discount Armageddon, I can't remember the artist name off the top of my head, though.

The Happy Booker said...

OMG those Joan D Vinge covers are GORGEOUS! I so want to wear the Snow Queen get-up for Halloween now! And I have the perfect shoes.....
Anyway that Blackbirds cover is AWESOME! Yeah, I'm adding this to my wishlist, I don't even care what its about.
I wasn't a big fan of the Alloy of Law cover. But like you, it didn't matter what it was wrapped in. I got the ARC and pre-ordered a signed copy. Sanderson IS Sanderson after all.
You certainly picked some great covers to feature here. I like each one of them for a different reason.

Pabkins said...

I do the same thing! I'm such a cover whore - and omg i tried finding that Blackbirds book and couldn't find it anywhere to remind myself to get it later - what the heck!

yes and ugly covers should be burned!!