Do you judge a book its cover?

(1/3) > >>

brianvds (October 01, 2017, 18:04:47 PM):
I recently got into the self-publishing business, sort of on a whim (publishing some children's stories I wrote years ago as Christmas gifts for my brother's children). On a Facebook group for self-published writers the question of book covers came up.

Now, some self-made covers that I have seen are genuinely godawful, but still, personally I never judge a book that way. I read the blurb on the back, and browse through, and that is crucial to my decision on whether or not to buy the book (or even borrow it from the library). However, a self-publisher on the group, who happens to be hugely successful and making a fortune from his books, said "try selling a book with a bad cover on Amazon."

On the face of it he had a point. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder. For one thing, how do we even define "bad cover." For another, even given that there is some meaningful definition, have any studies actually been done to determine the extent to which people will be swayed by the cover design? Is there any science here?

Any opinions/facts?
Faerie (October 03, 2017, 09:06:03 AM):
Rationally, readers dont judge, however, if your book is on the shelf with 5 others and I dont know any of the authers, my eye and hand will be drawn to both the cover and the title. I am unlikely to check all 5, and after one scan of the back cover - once again depending on how the book has been summarised - take it or dump it and move on to the other eye candy out there.

It matters unless you are Stephen King.
Faerie (October 03, 2017, 09:07:54 AM):
There is a chapter in "Freakanomics" on the selling power of presentation. Studies have been done, its marketing 1:1
brianvds (October 04, 2017, 02:40:31 AM):
Rationally, readers dont judge, however, if your book is on the shelf with 5 others and I dont know any of the authers, my eye and hand will be drawn to both the cover and the title. I am unlikely to check all 5, and after one scan of the back cover - once again depending on how the book has been summarised - take it or dump it and move on to the other eye candy out there.

It matters unless you are Stephen King.

Well, that was the consensus on the FB group: a cover won't necessarily sway anyone, but a striking cover will help people notice a book in the first place, if it is on a shelf or in the midst of a bunch of thumbnails.

I do wonder though whether a striking cover is necessarily a good one (our eye will be drawn the neon yellow book, with the photo of the topless model, however garish and tasteless such a cover might be). And how did they do these studies? How did they decide what a good cover is? How repeatable were the studies? Once they had decided what a good cover is, how reliably could designers make more good covers, that worked as well as the others?

Of late I have become extremely skeptical of "studies", particularly in the humanities. I have now run into lots and lots of people who seem extremely confident that they know exactly how to go about this or that, when in fact, for all we know, they were just lucky.

If memory serves, Nassim Taleb goes into this phenomenon extensively in Fooled by Randomness. In short, it goes something like this: thousands of investors try their luck at the stock market. At a rate of attrition of 50% per year, after twenty years one has become a billionaire while the others are bankrupt. The billionaire now writes a book about his "secrets" of success. But blind luck would explain it every bit as well.

Same thing goes for lots of cultural products: books, movies, symphonies, whatever, become spectacularly successful, and after the fact we come up with explanations of why, and what the secret of success is. How can we tell it's not just luck? Or (probably more realistically) which component was luck? I don't know if the studies have ways to address this.
Faerie (October 05, 2017, 05:21:51 AM):
Its interesting to observe and discuss, due to books about "secrets" of success in whatever realm, people (who read) as become a tad wiser. There are far more skeptical people around now than ten years ago. We are all still attracted to certain inbedded narratives though. Think about popcorn at the movies, our generation still falls for that every time but my 20ish aged kids couldnt be bothered, they want the movie. Its subconcious. I wouldnt go for garish colours, but a beautifully drawn cover or a striking black background with just the title would have me curious.

For the 50+ ladies reading fiction only, believe it or not, and Im concious of generalising here, subtle sexual undertones will sell the book, those reading the abundance of self help and personal development scripts, want the promise of being "better" or "smarter" just a promise of a one liner somewhere in there that "speaks" to them. Nancy Klein managed to get that one right by fluke. Pure white cover and the title "Time to think". Billions of introverts made her a billionaire.... she stated the obvious.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Skeptic Forum Board Index

Non-mobile version of page