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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Have you ever purchased a book because of its cover?

“’Forgive me, sir,’ he said. ‘I had you all wrong. You can never tell a book by its cover.’” ~ Murder in the Glass Room by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller (1946) ~

In May 2008, Random House Publishing commissioned Zogby International to create a survey, The Reading and Book Buying Habits of Americans.

Zogby questioned 8,218 adults not only about their reading habits, but everything from the reasons for purchasing a book, to the respondent’s political affiliation.

What was very telling about the report was the percentage of people who actually made their literary purchase based on a book’s cover.

When asked, “Do you ever judge a book by its cover?” Fifty-two percent of the respondents confirmed they did, and that “younger respondents were more likely to base their selection on a book’s cover.”

(IMHO, maybe this reflects a certain wisdom and discernment that only comes with age.)

However, what is even more telling is that when asked, “When you go into a bookstore for a specific book, do you make additional unplanned book purchases?”

Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said, “Yes.”

Regardless the reason behind what appears as superficial purchasing, publishers, book designers and graphic artists have their work cut out for them in coordinating a strong first-response-visual that tempts a shopper to choose one book over another.

The video below, from orbitbooks YouTube channel, shows just how much creative work and choices goes into assembling a book cover.

The one minute, 53-second video is a distillation of six hours of Photoshopping –that involve cutting, pasting, erasing and adjusting so that Gail Carriger’s latest novel, BLAMELESS, makes the New York Times Bestseller list.

Of course, I think that Carriger’s fine storytelling and fan following from her previous romance/fantasy/steampunk PARASOL PROTECTORATE series had as much to do with the book’s success.

Have you ever impulse purchased a book because of its cover?


TallTchr said...

For me, a cover chiefly identifies genre and where the book lies in the continuum between popular and literary fiction. It warns me off bodice busters, since those are written primarily for women, or gives me a friendly elitist wink, when the author has Booker or National Book Award aspirations.

BarryGillogly said...

Yes, I am pulled by the cover... but it ends there if my perusal doesn't make the grade. Aside from that... I always enjoy when you come up with the unusual and thoughtful subjects. The video was fascinating. Thanks!

Paula Slade said...

TallTchr - I guess this book cover warned you! ;-D

Barry - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed!

Single and Sane said...

A cover can draw me in or repel me, but it's only picking up the book and taking a deeper look that tells me whether I want to read it.

I am in awe of those Photoshop skills. Wow!

Paula Slade said...

Single and Sane - I am often tempted by a book's cover, which prompts me to quickly read the first few pages. If I can't connect in the beginning that's a signal for me and I know I probably won't stay with the book.

I wish I had those Photoshop skills Margaret! ;-D