If you know me at all (do you know me, readers? Do you?), you’ll know that I’m a huge cover whore. I don’t care WHAT the book is about, if I see a cover in a store that completely captures my eye every time I see it, I want it on my shelf. A few times, this has been beneficial, like when I picked up a copy of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain:
I mean, how can you NOT fall in love with that cover? Lucky for me, after I bought it (based solely on the cover), it turned out to be a super good read. This cover, though, features a dog. I’m sure that if I went into reading this book without seeing a dog on the cover, well, there’s a chance I wouldn’t have picked it up AND, if I had picked it up, I may have pictured a completely different dog as Enzo, our furry main character.
For most book covers, I go for that initial reaction, whether it’s the colours, or the layout, or the font — if it grabs my eye, I have a hard time NOT walking out of the store with a copy. But when it comes to books with characters on the cover, a lot of which grace my shelves, I wonder if I’m really *reading* the story how I should be. Does having a character on the cover give me a different reaction towards that character? Is it better to NOT have a character on the cover so that I can imagine my own character, building them from scratch based on the descriptions given to me from the author?
A lot of the cover I love have people on them. Take the cover for For Darkness Shows the Stars:
This is a gorgeous cover with a beautiful girl on it. But, of course, when I read it, I pictured this girl as Elliot, our main character. This does work out when the character on the cover fits the description of the character in the book, but I’ve heard of instances where the description doesn’t match the person on the cover — like the character in the book having brown hair, yet the character on the cover has red hair. This can really ruin a story!
When it comes down to it, is scenery the best thing to have on a cover? Perhaps an illustrative-like caricature of a character, rather than a real visual photograph-like image? Or, would it be better if we had books with NO cover at all, leaving us with a completely blank slate when we start the book?
I have to admit that this idea TERRIFIES me, being someone who is drawn to gorgeous covers. Before I even read a synopsis for a story, I look at the cover over and over again, picking out the typography, or the colours, or the small details that are thrown in for effect. Without these, I feel like I would be on the fence with what to read all the time. There are times, when it comes to picking out a next read, I’ll choose a book whose cover I love, without reading the synopsis — at least then I’m giving a SORT of idea of what I’m going into. If I had to read a book based on absolutely nothing except for the synopsis, I’ll admit that I’d be more than a bit hesitant.
So I guess when I think about it, I’m torn between having characters on the cover or scenery. I think so long as you have a beautiful cover, something to really grab your readers, and something that fits the story, it’d be something that would grab me — and maybe there are times when I’ll be more than happy to buy a book with a character on the cover based on the dress they’re wearing. I’m still a girl. I like those sorts of things.
Are you picky about your covers? Would you read all of your books if they had NO cover?