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Buying books based on the cover

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Buying books based on the cover

Old 01-10-20, 04:50 PM
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Buying books based on the cover

Does anyone else do this? There's been a lot of books I've been interested in over the years but then I see the cover and I'm like, "Ugh, I don't want that on my coffee table." Or sometimes it'll be a book in the horror genre, let's say, and the cover will be bright white, despite the story taking place mostly at night, or during winter, or dealing with something subterranean. Kind of ruins the mood for a dark story. Or it'll be a book that's set in a specific time period but they use a very modern design.

I'm looking at the cover of Ready Player One. I've heard it's a SF story based around the early era of video games (Atari, Nintendo). The original cover is all read with Pac-Man font, so I get the font choice. But unless the book is specifically about Pac-Man and mazes (which it might be), why choose THAT font? And why that color scheme? It conjures up images of pizza for me. The other cover is a generic, digital illustration of a guy climbing some futuristic, post-apocalyptic looking structures. I wouldn't even think of picking it up based on that cover, if I didn't know the premise. You'd think they go with a vintage arcade cabinet theme, pixel graphics, something. But with the covers they have, I don't want to buy it now.

Then again, there's been a lot of cool 80s paperbacks that I've bought here and there over the years, that had some amazing art. But the writing and story was awful, or at best, very, very generic.

Last edited by brayzie; 01-10-20 at 05:04 PM.
Old 01-11-20, 02:14 AM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Originally Posted by brayzie View Post
Does anyone else do this? There's been a lot of books I've been interested in over the years but then I see the cover and I'm like, "Ugh, I don't want that on my coffee table." Or sometimes it'll be a book in the horror genre, let's say, and the cover will be bright white, despite the story taking place mostly at night, or during winter, or dealing with something subterranean. Kind of ruins the mood for a dark story. Or it'll be a book that's set in a specific time period but they use a very modern design.

I'm looking at the cover of Ready Player One. I've heard it's a SF story based around the early era of video games (Atari, Nintendo). The original cover is all read with Pac-Man font, so I get the font choice. But unless the book is specifically about Pac-Man and mazes (which it might be), why choose THAT font? And why that color scheme? It conjures up images of pizza for me. The other cover is a generic, digital illustration of a guy climbing some futuristic, post-apocalyptic looking structures. I wouldn't even think of picking it up based on that cover, if I didn't know the premise. You'd think they go with a vintage arcade cabinet theme, pixel graphics, something. But with the covers they have, I don't want to buy it now.

Then again, there's been a lot of cool 80s paperbacks that I've bought here and there over the years, that had some amazing art. But the writing and story was awful, or at best, very, very generic.
The comic book industry survives due to the people buying the books based off the covers.
Old 01-11-20, 11:37 AM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Unless I’m buying a book to be displayed (like a piece of art), I couldn’t care less about the cover. I’ll spend a few seconds looking at the cover, and several hours reading it. It’s even less of an issue for digital books. That being said, I can understand how a good cover can be important in the marketing of a book (something to get people’s attention). In the times before the internet, the cover was a big thing getting my attention to a new author. A cool cover could get me to stop in the bookstore, and if the story description sounded interesting on the back I’d go for it. I found some good stuff that way ... but wasted hours reading crap too.

BTW, I loved Ready Player One (though admittedly I’m the perfect target reader, being a huge sci-fi nerd who grow up in the 80s and played arcade games and D&D). And yes ... Pac Man, mazes, pizza, and large futuristic buildings all factor into the story If the general story description sounds interesting to you, don’t skip it because you don’t like the cover.

Last edited by brainee; 01-11-20 at 02:31 PM.
Old 01-13-20, 02:04 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Back when I bought physical books, I'll admit to buying some based off the cover. It was often a problem with science fiction books, as the covers so often didn't depict anything that actually happened.
Old 01-13-20, 05:47 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Originally Posted by brainee View Post
BTW, I loved Ready Player One (though admittedly Iím the perfect target reader, being a huge sci-fi nerd who grow up in the 80s and played arcade games and D&D). And yes ... Pac Man, mazes, pizza, and large futuristic buildings all factor into the story If the general story description sounds interesting to you, donít skip it because you donít like the cover.
Haha, pizza plays a part? Okay, the 1st edition cover makes sense then. I'll just try to get the hardcover version and take the dust cover off. I saw some custom dust covers that were designed to look like Atari box art. The Korean edition is in 8-Bit pixel art.

Originally Posted by mndtrp View Post
Back when I bought physical books, I'll admit to buying some based off the cover. It was often a problem with science fiction books, as the covers so often didn't depict anything that actually happened.
I think that was a problem I had when reading some grown up novels as a kid. I just assumed that the places depicted on the covers were haunted because either the trees, house windows, couch pillows, or something else was made to look like a skull. Then when I read them it was...just a boring murder mystery where the culprit was just a regular person.
Old 01-13-20, 10:17 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Nah. I don't buy books all that often anymore, but when I do, they are either special editions or "art of" type of books and even coffee table books. I usually get any other book via the library/digital library collections/Kindle.

Old 01-13-20, 10:30 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

My issue isn't primarily with the cover. I mostly read non-fiction books, where the cover is generally boring and irrelevant.


My "buying books based on the cover" impulsive type behavior, manifests as buying books based on what are in the table of contents and skimming through the first few chapters.

I have purchased one too many books where I was interested in the table of contents and the stuff in the first few chapters were to my liking. Unfortunately it turns out when I go further into such books, the later chapters were frequently rather lackluster or outright useless and uninformative.

In the end, I was better off doing more diligent research online (ie. google books) and checking out the local university libraries if such titles were on the shelves. It would save a lot of wasted time and cash on such useless books.
Old 01-15-20, 03:38 AM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Nah. I don't buy books all that often anymore, but when I do, they are either special editions or "art of" type of books and even coffee table books. I usually get any other book via the library/digital library collections/Kindle.
I've seen pictures of Special Editions or Limited Edition versions of Stephen King and Dean Koontz books, and one great one by Whitley Streiber that had a Nagel-like cover. Usually they're pretty expensive though.

I have some Kindle books but I only resort to that if I can't get a physical copy.
If I'm reading say, Stephen King's 80s work, I have to get the original paperback/hardcovers. Like "Skeleton Crew" with the monkey chimes on the cover. "Night Shift" with the eye ball hand. When he switched publishers and they re-released all his books in bright white paperbacks, it ruined the mood.

HP Lovecraft is another one. Some publishers and artists get lazy and just do octopus-monsters. The Del-Rey paperbacks released 5-10 years ago are the best covers, IMO.

Originally Posted by morriscroy View Post
My "buying books based on the cover" impulsive type behavior, manifests as buying books based on what are in the table of contents and skimming through the first few chapters.

I have purchased one too many books where I was interested in the table of contents and the stuff in the first few chapters were to my liking. Unfortunately it turns out when I go further into such books, the later chapters were frequently rather lackluster or outright useless and uninformative.
Interesting. What specific type of non-fiction books have you done this with?

Anyways, here's other versions of "Ready Player One."








Old 01-15-20, 07:45 AM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

When I was a kid I used to buy R. A. Salvatore books based on the covers. They were mostly all good, from what I remember.
Old 01-15-20, 08:25 AM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Originally Posted by brayzie View Post
Interesting. What specific type of non-fiction books have you done this with?
Highly technical type stuff.

For example, books on topics like: quantum mechanics, mathematical cryptography, etc ... and many computer programming language books.
Old 09-13-21, 10:03 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

I must admit that I have often bought a book, just based on its cover alone.
Old 09-14-21, 02:07 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Yeah, used to do this all the time.

I got in the Dell Abyss line of horror novels in the early 90s because of the covers. They had some really freaky, Dave McKean-ish covers that really stood out on the store shelves a lot of the covers were die-cut, embossed, or had foil enhancements. I picked up the first one, The Cipher, by Kathe Koja, and bought every subsequent book in the line. It was kind of a mixed bag; some of them were pretty standard horror novels, but then there were also some standout novelists like Poppy Z. Brite and Kathe Koja.










And I also picked up the Borderlands anthology series because the covers (actually be Dave McKean this time) caught my eye at Bookstar...



Old 09-14-21, 02:12 PM
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Re: Buying books based on the cover

Oh, and on the science fiction side of the aisle, I think that Michael Whelan's amazing covers for Isaac Asimov's Robot and Foundation novels inspired me to buy them back when I was in high school.





You see covers like that, and the books just sort of demand to be read.
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