Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Covers are Crucial

I've always heard that a good book cover design is crucial to a successful novel. It should be carefully crafted to relate to the story, but not give away all your secrets. And of course, it must be eye-catching. I always knew that the cover was important, but I didn't realize how important until recently.

I have a four-year-old who loves to read, but he cannot read alone yet. However, he really likes to go to the library and pick out some of his own books. I take him to the library, he grabs a basket, we walk over to the children's section, I plop down on a bench, and he starts looking for books. This usually involves him finding a small section and shelf and stopping there.

He can't read the titles, so his only criteria for picking a book is looking at the cover. He doesn't even open it up to look at the pictures inside. He pulls a book off the shelf, looks at it, and sets it in his basket. He continues to do this, pulling from the same location until I tell him he has enough books. Our last trip took us 20 minutes total, including driving time.

For him, if it has an interesting cover, it will be an interesting book.

Now, as we get older, we certainly look at other criteria, such as recommendations, the teaser on the back cover, or a favorite author. But much of this early fascination with the cover lingers. If it didn't, why would we have an entire industry of professionals working to make a book cover perfect?

So pay attention next time you choose a book to read. How much credence do you give simply to what it looks like, regardless of what it says? If the cover doesn't catch your eye, do you even take time to read the teaser on the back?