Things That Make Me Put Books Back: The Cover19:00
You know how, when you’re looking at a book for the first time to see if it’s something that you’d like to read, you go through a mental checklist of book elements, from the cover, to the synopsis on the back? And if these elements aren’t quite right, you might not even consider taking the book home with you? I do this all the time. And when it comes to my process, I have quite a defined checklist to help me sort through the mountains of possibilities. Of course, not every element has to be absolutely right for me to read the book, but there are quite a few elements that influence whether or not I’m going to take that book home with me. Today I thought I’d share some of the elements on the cover that can put me off a book.
Is there actually a title on this spine? If I can’t see at a glance what a book is called then I’m not likely to make the extra effort to pick up a book I may not even like just to see what the title is. Instant rejection. Sorry book. I be a lazy little bookworm.
Author’s name or title? Seriously, does it bother anyone else when the author’s name is larger than the title so you think that the book is actually called Mary Smith? This is only made worse when the book title is also a person’s name, so you’re left guessing which is the title?
What is that word anyway? Fancy fonts that look great on the front cover don’t always work when you shrink them down. I get eyestrain just trying to work these titles out. If I can’t tell whether the word is ‘Conspiracy’ or ‘Corruption’ then Houston, we’ve got a problem.
The Front Cover
Solid colours aren’t a solid bet. Unless you’re doing something special with the book, having a monochrome colour for your cover is probably not the best decision. The sad truth is, I judge books by their covers. The prettier the cover, the more likely I’m going to pick it up and stroke it for a while. Books are artworks, so cover them properly!
Give that cover some spice, girl. Bland designs are an instant turn off. Single pattern covers aren’t always a safe way to go. Sure, a checked background like a gingham dress can be effective, but if there’s nothing else to make this cover pop then I’m going pop off and leave you to yourself, sorry book.
What is that picture?! If the cover has been reasonably well designed, then the picture is likely to give me a good idea of what’s on the inside. And if I don’t like what that picture is suggesting, like shirtless romantic men or blood dripping down a darkened building that screams vampire at me, then you’re going back where you came from. This isn’t a design issue so much as a warning that the book isn’t going to be something I like.
What is that word (again)? I can sometimes forgive unreadable text on the spine. I mean, it is a teeny weeny space to write in. But if I can’t read your title when it’s blown up huge on the front cover, boy, we’ve got issues. Are you really going to make me flip to the title page on the inside to find out what you called this book? I be a lazy reader. I’m not doing that.
Fussy fonts aren’t fabulous. I love a good font, I really do. And there are some great fancy fonts out there that work really well on covers. But if you’ve got a beautifully simple cover and have slapped a curly wiggly font on top of that, then we have issues. Or those really tacky handwritten ones that look like they were written by a five year old with a crayon. Let’s keep this professional, shall we?
Can we talk colour? Colour is eye catching. Colour is awesome. Colour can make or break a cover. But if you’re going to put a pink title on an orange background like one of those colour-blindness tests then forgive me if I’m not going to take the time to squint sideways and work out what this thing says.
Back Cover Text
Colour me confused. As an honourable mention, one pet peeve about back cover text, without even getting into what the text actually says. Like front cover titles, what’s with the colour? Colour can work really well. But if you’re going to give me a handwritten font in illegible pink on patterned paper then excuse me if I can’t be bothered to work out what this book is about. Return to the shelf from whence you came!
These are some of the things on a cover that can make me want to put a book back. I have loads of ideas for one about back cover copy. Let me know if you’d like to see a second part to this post! And tell me, what kind of cover design issues make you put a book back on the shelf? Agree with any of these? What is your pet peeve?