1. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    Judging books by their cover

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by wellthatsnice, Sep 3, 2015.

    We all do it, but what does the data say when somebody uses the mass data available via the internet and compares how people rate a Books Cover vs the story in the book.

     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Great stuff. And they have a sense of humor. :D
     
  3. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    What I find funny is how it's possible for the cover to rate higher than the actual story. Just goes to show that when you publish a book the cover is one of the most important details. :superthink:
     
  4. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    The interesting thing that i found is that if the cover was a close up of a person i generally hated it. An abstract image or a object that might be a plot point, tended to like it and rate it highly.
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not a great test, IMO. Mostly I was judging them on what I perceived the genre to be, based on the cover. If something screams "humorous chick lit" I'm not going to pick that off a bookshelf no matter how beautiful the cover, because I just don't read those kinds of books.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think that's the main thing people are being cued into, some stereotypical implications.

    I enjoy some romance genre books but I don't even read the synopsis if the cover has a shirtless muscular guy on it. And much as I like and I'm writing YA, if I see kids on the cover, I judge it as too-young YA. I may never had read the Potter series if I hadn't bought one of the audio books for my son to listen to in the car on the way to Oregon.

    There are lots of assumptions made looking at covers.
     
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  7. j7h18
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    j7h18 Member

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    I agree, we do so much more than look at a cover when choosing a book to read. Genre is such an important factor.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    But the cover can mean you do or don't look at the book's synopsis.
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee I get that, but what are we supposed to learn from it? It seems to me that these guys are trying to say "you shouldn't make those judgements because look, it has 4* on goodreads!" But it has 4* on goodreads mostly from people who enjoy that genre. So... I'm going to keep on judging a book by its cover. :p
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I look at the cover choice as part of the marketing of a book. I don't think too much about how it affects my reading choices. I hunt books by reviews and recommendations as well as perusing by genre lists. But I do think about cover choices that will be an important part of marketing my book when I finish it. I understand a publisher has more cover input than the author but I will be paying attention to the choice (or making it myself if I self-publish).
     
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  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As an example of a nice choice of cover, there's the debut novel by Vanessa MacLellan (who is in my writing circles on G+, and a very nice person). To me, if you're going for a fantasy novel, this is the type of cover that does a lot of work for you.

    1) The quality of the art is good;
    2) The image raises a number of immediate questions - the woman in the front is wearing modern clothes, though everything around her looks like ancient Egyptian fantasy, so what's going on? Why is she with a cat headed girl? Why is she with a mummy? Who's that in the shadow of the tomb behind them, and why are they running away? What's the significance of all of the forms hidden in the rock structures around them? Also, that looks like Earth's moon in the sky, so this probably isn't an alien world.

    When your cover can do that much work for you, I think it's a pretty good cover. I'd probably pick this up even if I didn't know Vanessa. So, you can make certain judgments by a book's cover.


    [​IMG]
     
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  12. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    Firstly, this was done with clearly light hearted intentions. They say many time this is not a scientific study and was more intended as a "what would judging a book by its cover look like".

    Second, your comment actually validates the point they are making. If you see a book that seems to fit into a genre that you don't like based on the cover art or title you are going to judge it much more harshly and not read it even when it is highly recommended.

    Third, this type of analysis is only valid when you look at the trends based on the fact that 800k people have participated, and rated the covers of over 3 million books. When you average them all out you can start to see the trends that provide insight into what makes a good cover vs a bad cover. Breaking down the trends of a large data set and attempting to compare them to the experience of one person will always create issues in the system because that person may be an outlier or have a predetermined bias.
     
  13. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I've worked in retail for nearly a decade, almost exclusively dealing with books, movies, electronics, etc. And the cover of a book can actually be a sort of code for the type of book, at least, if not the quality. Really vague, abstract images usually indicates literary fiction, and the more featureless and abstract the image, the more pretentious the book. However, this can also indicate an "edgy" mystery. Romance novels have a pretty clear pictographic code, ranging from pretty tame, Hallmark Channel fodder showing photos of trees or the beach, to steamier stuff showing a man and woman embracing, while a shirtless man by himself indicates porn with a good vocabulary. Fantasy novels with oil paintings for covers are usually pretty formulaic and dusty by today's standards. If there's a picture of a woman in leather pants, it's highly likely that it's porn with vampires or demons or something.
    Of course mileage may vary.
     
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  14. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    The intent was, what makes a good cover vs a bad cover.
     
  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm aware of that. :)

    But I think it's a badly-made point. It is highly recommended by readers who read that sort of thing. It might be the best horror story ever, but if I don't like horror I'm not going to enjoy it.

    It doesn't teach me anything about that. All it teaches me is that I need a cover which appeals to my target audience. If a million people buy my book because of the cover, but half of them hate my genre, I'm going to get a whole raft of bad reviews. That doesn't mean my book is bad.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I got 78% accuracy and "pretty damn judgey :blech: "

    Looool. I find I'm more inclined to rate the book higher when I think the book looks like it's supposed to be smart/deep, thinking that means it's more likely that people would rate it highly.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If the cover sucks and the book is highly rated, there might have been a struggle to get that book out to the readers. If the cover is highly rated and the book not, maybe the cover wasn't getting the right readership interested (or the cover was good and the book was bad).

    @Tenderiser: As for the judgey part on the link, that was meaningless. This is what I got:
    :D Made me laugh.
     
  18. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ha! I got "pretty damn judgey". :D
     
  19. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Cover art is just flashy, and rarely gives much in the way of what is inside. I always read the back if something piques my interest. Sometimes crack it open if I am having second thoughts to see if it is going to be worth the time and money to invest in it. Seems the more effort they try to get me interested in their work by putting on a good graphic that screams 'notice me!' is really droll. Besides I am interested in the story not some picture. Though I do appreciate artwork and have seen fantasy/sci-fi paintings done by amateur artists that look like photographs. Which is awesome to look at, and appreciate the hard work. Just in books, I want to imagine it myself, not have a predisposed visual of what I should expect to 'see' while reading. Going to go with a 'less is more' approach when it comes to cover art. IMO. :p
     
  20. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm taking the test and will return with the results. I judge a book by its cover, above anything else.
     
  21. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I got 'Pretty damn judgey' at the end of the first part, but continued for another round and got 'Absolutely nothing impresses you. If Michelangelo himself painted these covers you'd still say 'meh.' Thumbs down.'

    Why in God's name did the Justin Beaver cover score so highly???
     
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  22. Helen123
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    Helen123 New Member

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    Isn't it just a stereotype that judging books by their cover is a wrong thing to do? To my mind, some cover are saying "read me", like in "Alice in the Wonderland", you know, but other covers are just nauseous. For sure, I'm going to read a good book despite the fact that it has an awful cover, but, still... I'm kind of aesthete, that's why things like that really matter for me.
     
  23. Carl Magnus
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    Carl Magnus Member

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    A cover that screams that the author couldn't afford good cover art is going to turn potential readers off. A professional looking cover is expected. That is not to say that it has to be flashy. A minimalistic, "old school" cover can do the job. For me, the title is just as important as the graphics. The font should help tell people what the genre is.
     
  24. Carl Magnus
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    Carl Magnus Member

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    Comic Sans MS is not an appropriate font for a novel in the romance genre, for example. A good baseline level of common sense is necessary.
     
  25. DancingCorpse
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    DancingCorpse Member

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    I have to admit with my hands held high I am attracted like a gnat at sunset toward gleefully beaming covers (when books are packed side-on, if it's colourful or weird looking I'm in there!) or if laid out front facing the ceiling and has an intriguing proposition blaring out, I'll pick it the hell up, I read the blurb then flick through at random of course and if it holds my attention for longer than a minute I think why not. If I do not know an author and do not have my research done, I will read emphatic decoration more than pick in a genre aisle at random... so I feel both ashamed and not ashamed, it's human nature, look at the bees in the garden ya know. I do pick at random but the hyper active presentations certainly do compel me.
     

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