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Footnotes 2017-2018 > Conversation Topic 12-31

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments The "about me" topic is wonderful. I enjoy getting to know you all through your posts, these topics, and now that thread.

So my thought today. Do you judge books by their cover? I know we post reviews and these have lead to me either choosing a book or refraining. But personally, I like not know what a book is about. When looking for a book, I almost 100% judge a book by the cover. I skim the book jacket, getting type of genre the book is without picking up details. I love learning the story as I go without any preconceived ideas. I find when this happens, even with books I don't like, I rate them slightly higher than going into a book with expectations.

Thoughts and feelings and take this conversation wherever it may lead.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 31, 2017 08:02AM) (new)

I definitely (initially) judge a book by its cover. If I know nothing else about the book, a pretty or artistic cover design makes it more likely I will continue on to read the synopsis and check out ratings. If I am buying a book, I do want to know what it is about, while hopefully avoiding reading any spoilers. For a library book, that isn't as important.

For contemporary fiction, I always want to have some idea what the book is about, just so I don't waste my time investing in a subject or scenario I have no interest in. Just a little complaint though, as I feel some publisher's book summaries gives away too many details.

Thanks for the question, Jason. Happy New Year, PBT members!


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8846 comments I’m taking the direction of your comment about liking not knowing too much about what’s inside and letting the story unfold and develop with surprise. I have been thinking about this is terms of my tendency to skim the reviews until after I have read the book. I don’t want to know very much about a book, so I can let the plot unfold itself. I’m careful about my reviews as well. I want to share no more than the book jacket, and often I share far less. Often in my goodreads experience, our reviews re-tell the book in ways I wish not to know.

As far as book covers, I am not often drawn or deterred by that, but I am sure it’s unconscious. Why would anyone be drawn to dark and macabre, although I know some like that genre... on the other hand, while I think I’m often not drawn to covers, the new one that comes to mind is the Girls in the a Picture, by Melanie Benjamin.

One last thought - I have five listopia lists I am circling around and four of them are totally predictable and classic for me. And there is a top two. But I wanted to have a fun and different list. So I added one for fun. It’s called Girl in a Red Dress. It’s got to have the main female character in a red dress on the cover. So this is my official listopia challenge three. Find, read, and review at least six of the books on the list, and see how many I can get total. I have three books already in my “next” list that qualify, and I think the first is Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. A Certain Age and The Summer Queen are also in my hallway of books and on the “next” list. All three cross as Listopia list books, and one is a giveaway. Anyway, it’s completely out of the box for me to choose something whimsical like that and to pay attention to covers. But hey, that what makes it fun. My choices while a perfect fit for me, felt boring and unadventurous. So here we go....


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Amy, yes this is the crux of the question. Reading a book with little to know knowledge of it or having an idea. But this leads to judging books by title and cover.

I tend to read the reviews of books I've already read, there is a large discussion, or the title is extremely intriguing. This has lead to finding amazing genres and stories that I never would of chosen with previous knowledge. I also love the suspense of the story. I've started books not even knowing if they are fiction or nonfiction which leads to research which I find makes the reading experience all the more enjoyable.


message 5: by Elise (new)

Elise (ellinou) | 525 comments I often go to the library or the bookstore already with a list of books I want to pick up, so covers don't normally influence me that much, but I do see the appeal of a nice cover. In fact, for the Listopia challenge, I was looking for an interesting list for "most beautiful book covers", but most of them are filled with YA fantasy series I can't be bothered with, so that was the end of that idea.

Interesting thing about book covers: in libraries here (Montreal), there's usually one section for English and one for French. And visually, the difference is striking: in the French sections, all the spines are white or beige, and when you move to English, it's like an explosion of colours. In my publishing classes, I learned that in the anglo publishing world, the editor has the same "control" over the book as the graphic team, so in the end the text is as important as the appearance around it. And in the franco world, on the contrary, the text is #1, with more budget and more time devoted to it, so we end up with easy covers, a simple picture with title and author written in a boring font. French books are seriously drab next to English books. It's quite simple to find gorgeous covers on English books, but not so much in French.


message 6: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8617 comments Ellie wrote: "I often go to the library or the bookstore already with a list of books I want to pick up, so covers don't normally influence me that much, but I do see the appeal of a nice cover. In fact, for the..."

Yes, I'm the same way. I generally know ahead of time what I am looking for.

That being said, I'm certain there are times I'm drawn to a book by its cover (usually here on LT) and have to take a closer look at what it's about. Also sometimes the title is intriguing.

Ellie, that is really interesting about French vs English books!


message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Pope (jenjunum) | 902 comments Totally judge books on their covers. I generally hate book jacket summaries, overall I think they're not great. I'd rather read a few of the top reviews on GR, or a friend's review any day (even if it's very brief). I picked up The Tsar of Love and Techno because I loved the cover, I found the title confusing, and it sounded familiar, and it was one of my favorite reading experiences ever. I hate covers with close up faces or where people are the focus. It reminds me of romance covers I think, which I think are so tacky (the covers, and romance novels need not be tacky!)


message 8: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2502 comments That is so interesting, Ellie!

If the book is by an author that I've read before, the cover's reasonably immaterial. But if I'm just browsing and want to take a punt on something, then I'm a sucker for a good cover - it'll at least get me picking the book up. As long as the blurb sounds vaguely like what I'm in the mood for and the writing on the first page doesn't annoy me, it'll stay in my hands for a while.

Fortunately there are so many books with beautiful covers that I still have to be selective, though!

If the book is reasonably expensive, I'll usually do a quick skim of reviews (usually from the Guardian) to get the flavour of it and find if there are any fish-hooks. I've started doing this after I bought the Charles Darwin biography by AN Wilson (whose writing I really like) without checking first, only to find it's been panned by all and sundry inc the New Scientist for being inaccurate... I'll still read it, happily and with my eyes open, but I wouldn't have bought it.


message 9: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments A good cover will definitely catch my eye and make me look for more information. If I see a cover in email (Book Bub, Daily Deal emails), then I will look at the genre and then the ratings including number of people who have rated it. If I'm online, I might see how many of my GR friends rated it as well.

At a bookstore/library, I will pick up things with interesting titles or covers. I generally read the back blurb to decide. However, I am much more likely to buy a book if it's a known author to me or highly recommended by a person that I trust their reading tastes.

I'm like Amy, I don't necessarily like to read reviews until after I've actually read the book. I do like the mystery of how things unfold. I do sometimes get irritated when the book blurb is really misleading.

I will say that I do not, not buy books with bad covers.

Ellie --- so interesting about the difference between the french and english styles. I definitely noticed a similar style difference when I lived in France. However, the funniest thing that I noticed was the difference in styles between british english and american english. Once I bought a british and american version of a Marie Claire magazine around the same time period. There were several articles that were about the same topic, but the way the information was laid out and the writing style was completely different even though they were both english :-D.


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