Some of us probably got bookstore or amazon gift certificates for Christmas, didn’t we? How many new books have you purchased so far this year? I’m guessing you already had books on your wish list and that you were waiting for them to be released. But sometimes those books just leap off the shelf at us. When I saw the cover for Her Montana Man for the first time, I was ecstatic. I didn’t think my good cover fortune could get any better. And then I saw the cover for Her Colorado Man. I experienced a moment of pure cover elation. Cover love. Cover adoration. I love that cover.
When I fill out my cover suggestions for the art department and marketing team, I select two or three key scenes from the book and describe the characters’ clothing and the weather and the time of day. And then I hold my breath. Sometimes the resulting image is nothing like I imagined, and other times it’s even better. This romantic depiction is from a scene during the Denver exhibition when Wes and Mariah dance under the stars, away from public view. You can even see the decorative lanterns in the background.
So imagine this: You’re standing in the checkout line, and the books catch your eye. One book in particular holds your interest. You pick it up, turn it over, and open to the first page. You must have this book. Into your cart it goes.
What was it that caught your eye? Something about that cover made you reach for the book. Maybe something about the back cover lured you in. Maybe you didn’t even look at the price
I’ll bet you can remember more than one time that you’ve picked up a book for the cover alone. I know I have. On the other hand, I’ve passed by some terrific stories because the covers turned me off. I can think of one in particular. I got the book in my stack of entries to judge for the RITA awards. I even put it off until the last, only to discover it was an incredible story that hooked me from the get go and never let up. I liked the author’s voice and style so much that I hunted her backlist and read as many as I could get my hands on. So what was it I didn’t like about that cover, you ask? It was a cartoon cover. I have never purchased a book with a cartoon cover—well except the others by that same author.
I think most of us have auto-buy authors – an author you buy simply because you know they’re going to deliver a story you will enjoy, no matter the subject or the cover. For me there are several of those: Sharon Sala, Anne Frasier, Janet Evanovich, Robyn Carr just to name a few.
I’ve purchased books based on reviews – sort of like movie reviews that tempt me. Not because the review was glowing, but because the synopsis told me the book was about a subject or character I knew I would like. I’ve bought books because someone recommended them to me. I have purchased a book because of an ad. That could have been because of the cover or the blurb. I’ve never bought one because of a quote on the front or because I saw the book trailer.
If I had to say where most of my book buying was done over the past couple of years, I’d confess it wasn’t done in stores, but online. Convenience is the reason – and because –sadly — the chain stores carry less and less of the mid-list books. At least one huge chain store near me (Target) no longer carries Harlequin or Silhouette lines!
Online book shopping is a whole different beast. You pretty much need to know what you’re looking for, or at least I do. amazon has that clever suggestion feature that shows what they think you’d like based on your previous purchases. And you can subscribe to any number of newsletters by your favorite authors to be prepared for their new releases.
But there’s something about looking at those covers…something about picking up that book, seeing it in person…up close and personal, covers are enticing. For me — If it has a western or an Americana look, I’m a sucker. There was a day when many readers would buy any book with Fabio or John DeSalvo on the cover. I’m probably in the minority of romance readers who aren’t impressed by cover models. In fact, if I recognize the guy on the front, it’s a complete turnoff for me. He has become a model in my eyes, not the fantasy hero I want to meet for the first time and fall in love with. I guess that’s it–a recognizable face spoils the fantasy.
I also prefer cover people with heads, thank you very much. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like to stare and stare, trying to figure out where the story peoples’ faces are. I’m a bigger fan of bare backs with laces falling away than of legs and high heels, but that’s probably my historical preferences coming out. I will always buy a cowboy or a cowboy hat. And I don’t mind flowers.
And FYI: Desceptive cover, Catherine Anderson’s newest book Early Dawn is a western!
So what type of cover attracts you?
Have you ever bought a book just for the cover?
Do you buy books for the author’s name, no matter what the cover looks like?
What are your criteria for spending your cash on a new author’s book?
Have you ever bought a book because you’d met the author and liked him or her?
Picked up any beautiful books lately?