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August 16, 2009


Sheila Connolly

My publisher has done an outstanding job on all my bookcovers so far (knock on wood)--they reflect the details of the plot, and they're visually appealing.

A recent survey of booksellers suggests that most book buyers walk into a bookstore with no particular goal in mind, and pick up a book based on the way it looks. Kind of scary, no?


They have done a good job on your covers, Sheila.

Based on what I see in my store, that survey holds up. The covers grab them first. If they like it, they read the blurb. Sometimes the interest continues, sometimes not. Really thorough readers take a stack of books, whose covers and blurbs attracted them, to a chair, and they read a bit of each of those books, usually ending up buying about half. I don't think anyone buys just because of the cover, but it is vitally important.

Chris Adams

Hi, interesting thoughts.
I'm a reader and i'm not sure the cover is that important.
I pick up the book because of the title.
Then i read the back.
If i'm still interested i read the first line.
If the title/synopsis/first line hold my attention i'll buy - if i have the asking price.
I'm not sure that authors should find that scary, i also buy books because of an authors name that i have enjoyed in the past.
I'll pick up a recommended book but then look at the title etc.
To a casual observer it would seem i was looking at the cover but it's the title that is the key.
Why men don't listen....I pick it up because the title is great, i don't buy it because when i read the synopsis i think - isnt this Men are from Mars, Women from Venus?
Maybe proving that i can't read as well as listen?

Dana Cameron


Once I was talking to my editor about the covers of my books, which I've always loved. I asked who did it, and she said, it was Art. I asked if I could have Art's email to thank him, and she clarified (as I'm sure you've guessed) that it was the ART DEPARTMENT!

Nice post!


Chris, thanks for sharing a reader's insights. Unfortunately, writers don't always choose their titles -- sometimes publishers change the ones we pick; hopefully, they choose better ones.

Why Men Don't Listen... is similar to the Mars-Venus idea, but deeper IMO. It resonated better with me anyway.

Thanks for sharing how you pick books.


Cute story, Dana, and just a touch embarrassing for you. Ouch!


I'm currently majoring in Graphic Design and one of the things we talk about is the perfect book cover. So as a designer, yes I do judge a book by its cover. The first thing I do is look at it and see what it tells me just from the imagery and the title and then I read the back. Typically I won't pick up 'ugly' book covers unless they have been recommended. The cover doesn't have to tell you the whole story of the book, it might have little subtleties that somehow relate to the story but are not quite obvious right of the bat. I like those too. I also like when authors have a set style for their books so when you look at a cover you know "oh thats so and so author"

In short, I think covers are important. I treasure them (even though they don't always mean that your book will be a hit).


Thanks for sharing the designer perspective on covers, Noelle. I also like when covers have a certain franchise style that readers can instantly identify. I don't know why more publishers don't take that approach.

Subhashita Manjari

Do not judge a book by its cover!
Appearence can be deceptive :p


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