One-Minute Book Reviews

October 14, 2007

What’s in a Book Cover? New on One-Minute Book Reviews

Filed under: Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:37 pm
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When critics get together, they never say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” If you get more than 500 books a week from publishers — as the editors of major book-review sections do – you know that a cover can tell you a lot. It can tell you whether a book technothriller (look for the metallic Stealth bomber) or a romance novel (look for the bare-chested man with hair longer than yours) and whether a book is a Library of America edition of a classic (black and white) or a “Complete Idiot’s Guide” to the Bible or Tantric sex (orange and white). And covers are becoming more important as the publishing industry becomes ever-more market-driven.

So there’s a new section called “Cover Story” at the end of some reviews on One-Minute Book Reviews that comments on especially strong or weak covers. The first dealt with the cover of Rebecca Gowers’s first novel, When to Walk These occasional remarks follow the reviews — instead of appearing in the text — because authors typically have little or no control over their covers. If the writers are lucky, publishers will listen to their views about them. But often they are unlucky. Do you think that the authors of books marketed to women really like those pink covers that publishers put on so many of them?

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. I have to say, as an avid reader, and as an art student, I pay alot of attention to cover design. Generally, if a book has an unusual and interesting cover, the content is interesting as well.

    Actually I have a system when choosing a book,
    first: find a cover that attracts you,
    second: read the back,
    third: open to a random page and read- do you want to keep reading? then its a purchase.

    I’ve yet to be disapointed. And I’m glad to hear that cover artists and designers are gaining importance in the book-world!


    Comment by softrevolution — October 14, 2007 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  2. Lauren: Good system. It’s actually somewhat similar to mine — especially the part about opening to a random page. You often can’t judge books by their first few pages, because it may take authors a chapter or two to hit their stride. Opening to a page in the middle can give you a much better sense of a book.

    Thanks so much for your helpful comment.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 14, 2007 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

  3. A cover is much more likely to make me *not* buy a book than it is to make me buy it. Those pink covers? ICK! And then there are these….

    Comment by laurakramarsky — October 14, 2007 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  4. Some covers can be a real turn-off, can’t they? Or worse. They stereotype writers who may be doing interesting and original work.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 14, 2007 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  5. I have a lot of debate with my bookstore co-workers over the influence of book covers (and I love that you are doing “Cover Story”), and I know for me (as someone regularly around books on the retail end) it is much easier to sell a book with an interesting or intriguing cover. Additionally, one of my favorite (book nerd) things to do is to check out the release covers from various countries.

    Comment by bookchronicle — October 14, 2007 @ 9:02 pm | Reply

  6. Could you include the cover images in the posts?

    Comment by seanlindsay — October 14, 2007 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  7. Bookchronicle: Publishers debate that, too. But my experience is similiar to yours. I’m amazed at how often I go into a bookstore, expecting to buy a certain book, and come home with another instead of in addition to that one, motivated partly by the cover. Glad to have your perspective on this.

    Sean: I’d love to include the cover images but need serious tech help before I can (and also to find time for scanning). But it’s definitely a goal that I hope to reach within, say, the next six months. Until I’ll try to describe the covers as clearly as I can. Thanks so much for both of your comments.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 15, 2007 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  8. Hi Janice,

    During a recent conversation with Laura Fitzgerald, author of Veil of Roses, I was very surprised at how little control authors have over the selection of their covers.

    Here’s an interesting site you might appreciate on book covers: I discovered it from this post at The Written Word:

    Comment by lisamm — October 15, 2007 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  9. Thanks, Lisa. Laura was right about the lack of control. You have to be at Stephen King’s level to get cover approval in your contract. The site you mentioned sounds good, but the hyperlink didn’t get inserted, so I’ll try to add it here:'t-judge-a-book/
    [Note: The link I have inserted works despite the different colors. J]

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 15, 2007 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

  10. Thanks, Janice. I know how to do that in my blog but I don’t know how to do it in a comment. I really want to link this site on Covers:

    Comment by lisamm — October 16, 2007 @ 9:39 am | Reply

  11. Hi, Lisa,
    To insert a hyperlink in a comment or anywhere else:
    All you have to do is add the prefix http:// to the URL and put a slash at the end. For example, if you wanted to link to the site for my novels in a comment, you would write this:

    That’s all you have to do. The link will appear automatically with no pasting-in needed. You don’t need to use any special or function keys. You can just use the regular letter, slash and colon keys on your keyboard as long as you put two slashes after the colon.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 16, 2007 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  12. […] and a bunch of IOU-a-bribes), Janice Harayda of One-Minute Book Reviews suggests it may be because they receive 500+ books every week — and that’s just from real publishers, all competing for the one remaining square inch […]

    Pingback by 101 Reasons to Stop Writing : » Weekend Update (8-14 October 2007) — October 18, 2007 @ 11:08 am | Reply

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