Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Getting sucked in - Karen Bush

What is it that attracts you to a book, that makes you pick it up and read a little to see if you like it (and if so, then to buy it)?

Much has been said here about the importance of getting a book cover right, and when I'm browsing in a bookshop, it's certainly the first thing which catches my eye and makes me look closer. The title may hook me further, but as far as I'm concerned personally, the first pull comes from the appearance of the cover. I've read books which I've loved, but would never have considered if the cover hadn't lured me over and then sucked me into picking
them up - Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn is one such. Although I did enjoy reading Shogun many years ago, it was only because I missed the last episode of the mini-series on TV and wanted to know what happened that I bought it - Japanese Samurai stuff isn't something which ordinarily holds any appeal for me. But this ravishingly gorgeous cover (and this picture really doesn't do it justice) made me go over, look closer, pick it up and then to start reading. And then, of course I had to buy it (and wait breathlessly for the rest of the Otori series to appear ...) No jacket design credit is given anywhere - tut.

Another eye-grabber was Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori. I mean, who could resist a book bound with a luscious deep purple velvety textured cover? (The brainchild of Tracey Hearst, with silhouettes by the author). I picked it up, stroked and caressed it and had to have it. I loved the story too (and all the others in the series as well)

With e-readers, I find that covers are rather less of a draw: when browsing online, tiny images don't have quite the same impact as when seen full size in real life. My e-book choices are influenced more by reviews than covers, and my purchases are consequently less spontaneous. Yes, you can read often quite substantial chunks of text before purchase (if you were to read the same amount in a bookshop you'd feel morally obliged to purchase it) to help you decide whether this is a book you want to make closer acquaintance with.

But it all feels a bit clinical at times. I do love the impulse-buy aspect of bookshops.

The Great Rosette Robbery and other stories: text by me, cover by Claire Colvin.

You can find out more about me and my books at http://karenbush.jimdo.com/


Dan Holloway said...

I think I find myself more rather than less drawn to e-covers if anything - they are the thing whilst browsing through pages and pages that make me single out one for a sniff.

That Lian Hearn cover is remarkably like Murakami's 1Q84!

Debbie said...

Gollancz did an experiment a few years back, well pre-ereader, and issued a set of sf/fantasy titles with plain fabric-effect covers in paperback. No title, no author (except on spine) - just lovely flock-damask you want to stroke. Apparently it was so that commuters could read without being embarrassed at the titles. Presumably it wasn't a success as I've never seen any more.

julia jones said...

I suppose that's why we all have to work so hard at marketing - the physical books and the physical booksellers aren't there to do it for us. My Kindle just looks dead and grey. I know that I must learn to love it - and I do, for some things, but I'll always relish the feel of a book and the design aspects and the colour. Good discipline, I suppose, to learn to put it all into words and get those imaginations racing ...

Diana Kimpton said...

As an ex-book reviewer, I'm sure a good cover is really important, especially for a self-published book. And it's worth designing one to look good at the size it's displayed on the Amazon sites.

Katherine Roberts said...

Kindle skins are what we need... book "covers" that fit over a Kindle, so when you turn it off or put it down, they remind you of the book you were reading.

Dennis Hamley said...

Yes, Julia, the physical feel of a real book is unmatchable - and the colour and the smell when it's still new. That's why, pleased though I am (or will be) to see my ebooks, what I look forward to most is the chance to have them once again as paper books so that Anastasia's wonderful new covers can be seen properly.

Yes Debbie,isn't Debi Gliori's 'Pure Dead...' series great. Funny, a genuinely unique sort of fantasy, an odd fusion of Scotland and Italy and superbly inventive. Books which made me really laugh out loud. I reviewed them all and was bowled over.