Talk to Me Tuesday #1 - Cover vs. Content

Tuesday, January 4, 2011






Talk to Me Tuesday is a brand new weekly meme where we will discuss anything (and everything) literary-related in an open forum of honesty. Questions for the next week will be posted one week prior to the post on the Features page. If you'd like to participate in this weekly feature, simply create your post, link back to me, and add your post to the wonderful Mr. Linky below. Have fun, and have at it!
This week's question: What books have better covers than content, and what books have better content than covers?

We all know that the YA market is currently dominated by incredible covers. From upcoming books like The Water Wars (om nom nom) and Across the Universe to recent releases like Virals and Dark Song, it’s clear that covers are fast-becoming as important as the content itself. So, what happens when a perfectly good novel is stuck with a rather, shall we say, unfortunate cover? I am by NO means a graphic artist or designer, but I am a self-diagnosed cover-slut, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’ll often judge a book by its cover.

Take, for example, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. The series is a fun, sci-fi/fantasy tale, but the covers are bit, well, flat. I get it. It’s a door…for time…in an hourglass. Go figure. Now, I loved the book, but I bounced over it for a long time because the cover felt so blah compared to others on the shelves. For me, a good cover hints at the story’s content without over-exaggerating the details (*cough* Zan-Gah *cough*). I want colour, a touch of beauty, a hint of mystery, and something that makes me do a double-take in the store because, let’s be honest, I judge with my eyes first. See a sampling of what I drool all over in the store:

Here’s what some of your fellow book bloggers have to say about covers that didn’t quite work for them:



Sandy from Pirate Penguin Reads believes that the same goes for Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. She says, “Born confused doesn’t have the nicest cover, but I LOVE that book to pieces!”






Linna from 21 Pages feels that the cover for She’s So Dead to Us by Keiran Scott falls flat. She says, “It’s terribly bland without conveying something meaningful about the actual plot or characters.”





Linda from Book Girl of Mur-y Castell thinks the covers for Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series just don’t live up. She says, “They are just so childish.”





Author, Melissa Walker says, “People hated my Lovestruck Summer cover, but loved the book.”




Capillya from That Cover Girl loves Jennifer Echols’ work but couldn’t connect with the cover of The Ex Games. She says, “What I don’t get is how I’m supposed to walk out of a library or bookstore without feeling completely mortified that I’m carrying a book that has cartoon characters on the front.”


Yes, there are times when books have far better covers than stories…Witch & Wizard is a prime example, but I will say that I bought that book based on the cover, so it clearly influenced me. 


41 comments:

  1. I'm totally guilty of judging a book by it's cover. I hate, hate, HATE cartoon characters on book covers! It's so juvenile to me. But I think I tend to stick to either photography shots or simple covers. Off hand, I really like the cover of Twisted by Laurie Halse-Anderson.

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  2. I haven't read Halo but from the majority of negative reviews, I'd say the gorgeous cover is better than the book.

    I think Anna and the French Kiss is a great example of an unfortunate cover (and title).

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  3. Ohhh a new meme, I love it! I have to agree with all of the above, none of those covers are overly interesting for me. Since I work in a design field, I'm more critical of covers I think, and I certainly pass over books where the cover is either bland or awful even if there is a potentially fabulous book underneath. Bad Jenny.

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  4. I kind I like the pearls cover, very simple, but dunno about fitting.

    Aha so this was you were working on :)

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  5. Oh oh oh, if you want more just ask ;) Cos the Finnish HP covers are horrible. perhaps for some future post

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  6. Great meme Melissa! I agree with The Hourglass Door series, they are a bit bland...but the series itself is great and the author's quite nice too. Prisoners in the Palace is another example of a boring cover but exciting fun story. I absolutely love the books that have marvelous covers and stories, like Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers and The Dark Divine series by Bree Despain. Anyways, great post!
    -Danna
    http://friendlyreaderohyeah.blogspot.com/

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  7. I thought the covers of Impossible and Extraordinary by N. Werlin were better than the story (sorry). I hate to say that.

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  8. I feel ya!

    Some books deserve better covers and some poor books must have had really good publishers/marketing :)

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  9. I love the Sookie covers. Cute and fun.

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  10. Thanks for stopping by The Wormhole - I have already added another challenge - we'll see how they work out.

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  11. Ooooo, I love this idea for a meme Melissa! Discussions like this are always very interesting :)

    Danna- I got Prisoners In The Palace for Christmas and whilst I do think the front cover is a little dull, the back is marvellous as it's in the style of a Victorian newspaper but not too old fashioned.

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  12. Hey Melissa!

    Very cool meme! I linked my post to your linky! I found your page via the weekly bookshelf post you were featured in! Great layout! I spotted the HP series almost immediately haha. And I love your cat! I have a Silver Bengal!

    xo,
    Lah

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  13. I love this topic. I'm a cover-slut too. I always judge books by their covers and that's led to to overlook some good books and pick up some duds.

    I love the cover for Shiver, but I didn't even like the book enough to finish it.

    I agree with Linda, those Sookie book covers are a huge turnoff for me. I haven't read that series yet, and a large part of that is because of those horrible covers.

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  14. Love the new meme. :D

    There's definitely quite a few books out there that I have yet to start reading because of the covers...

    I'm really not a fan of cartoons or drawings on a cover they make th book look like their for younger elemantary or middle school readers. The Sookie books for example I'm not a fan of the US covers so I got the pretty UK ones even though it's the same content. I gotta be a little bit shallow if the books are going on my bookshelf.

    On the other hand I've read a few books where the cover drew me right in, but the story was less than stellar so now I just get a book based on recommendation.

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  15. I definitely judge a book by its cover, and I can't stand cartoonish covers! I need something pretty and intriguing, not childish.

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  16. I have to say that I agree about the Sookie covers. So not indicative of the content! I also wasn't crazy about the City of Bones cover, because I didn't think it fit the book that well.

    I love the cover of the upcoming The Iron Witch and I think the Wicked Lovely series covers are really cool.

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  17. Hehe, i was going to mention Zan-Gah too.

    One book with an AWESOME cover that I didn't care for was Fallen.

    I don't really care for "The Body Finder" cover but I LOVE the book!

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  18. I like your new meme, so I put up a post for it. Love the idea for discussion of books.

    Selena

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  19. Great discussion idea! I have to say that I thought both Beautiful Creatures and Firelight had covers that beat out their actual content, as I found the stories to be rather disappointing.

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  20. Love this meme! And I totally agree about the cartoon character thing - I always feel childish carrying those out, or recommending them to others. I prefer simple covers; a good font and color are all I need.

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  21. I'm such a sucker for covers. I like cutesy for Chick-lit type books. Great meme

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  22. Love this idea for a meme. Melissa, you know I'm too opinionated for my own good, so I'd like to ofter a suggestion. Would it be possible to post the discussion topics for the month on your sidebar so people can prepare their posts before hand? Feel free to ignore me. :D

    And I may be the only one, but I LOVE the cover art for the Southern Vampire Mysteries series. I think the artist, Lisa Desimini, has done a fabulous job with each one.

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  23. I wouldn't read The Thief for YEARS because of it's first cover (gag). The new covers are so much better and when I finally read the book last summer I kicked myself all over the place for not reading it sooner!

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  24. Even though I know I shouldn't, I constantly judge books by their covers, and in some instances it works out in my favor (like for Firelight and Across the Universe, which are both brilliant books) and occasionally it doesn't. Thankfully, I try to give books with less stunning covers a try, and I'm starting to find out that sometimes the books with the "ugly" covers are some of the best. Case in point: Fat Cat by Robin Brande

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  25. That's true... sometimes covers aren't really tempting... And on the other hand, beautiful covers can hide a deception... That happened to me with Fallen by Lauren Kate... I don't really like the book... Thanks to the end, it wasn't a huge deception but still a little one... But... I'm a lost cause apparently, because I bought the second book with a gorgeouus cover, aka Torment lol

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  26. I ADORE the new meme, Melissa, and I really think you have a point with the cover vs. content thing. It was so cool that you took the time to interview other bloggers about their opinion. Great job! :)

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  27. I hated the covers for the BDB series. I even blogged about it ages ago. I didn't pick up the series because of the mmpb covers but am so glad I finally did! I enjoyed them.

    Love the meme! I'm very opinionated. ;)

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  28. I enjoyed the new meme! Great idea! I've never really paid attention to how much a cover goes into whether or not a buy a book, but it's a pretty big deal. A cover is what hooks me, and draws me in. Sometimes I am let down by the content, but the cover is what originally made me give the book a shot.

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  29. I SO agree about Lovestruck Summer... it's a really great book, but the cover doesn't represent it at ALL. I mean, it's a cutesy cover, and while it's not my favourite, it would be okay if it had anything to do with the main point of the story, but... it doesn't. So unfortunate!

    I actually think the She's So Dead to Us cover is really pretty and kind of classy, but I can understand the complaint... it definitely doesn't tell much about the book either. I think the paperback is getting a new design, though, and the 2nd book will match that design.

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  30. What a great new meme!!

    - I think your right, covers sell. Sometimes I buy a book because the cover is so beautiful and then the story is terrible...*Halo* or Ive found a great story like Crossing which had a not so great cover.

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  31. I totally hate cartoon book covers as well. When they're often conjoined and revamped (much like Jennifer Echols and Endless Summer) I always ooooh and awww only to find out that it's not a new book at all. Then I check to see why I'd never paid attention to the book before and voila, the originals have cartoon covers.

    And I too wasn't a big fan of the cover for She's So Dead To Us until I recently discovered that the paperback edition has dun dun dun...cartoons on the cover! D: lol

    Loving this meme Melissa! :)

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  32. I'm so glad you posted on this subject. Reading all these comments - it's like a teeny version of Christmas. =)

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  33. I really disliked the cover for BEFORE I FALL, but it was one of my favorite books of the year! Lauren Oliver totally deserves better covers!

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  34. Great idea for a new meme! Much more interactive!

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  35. This is an interesting meme. I don't think I ever pay attention to the cover. If I love the book, I automatically fall in love with the cover no matter how plain or beautiful it is. But I know cover matters a lot to a lot if people.

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  36. Awesome meme!

    Definitely agree about The Hourglass Door, that book deserves so much more in a cover. I like it, but it could be way better.

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  37. Great idea for a feature. I have definitely be burnt by a cover many times.

    One that has plain and rather silly cover is The Dairy Queen (it has a cow on the front) but this is one of the best coming of age stories i have read :)

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  38. Great post! Excellent cover but BAD book = Hush Hush
    Great covers w/great stories: The Mortal Instruments

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  39. LMAO: " a self-diagnosed cover-slut". Fun and interesting post. I have to admit that a cover always catches my eye but I have now learned the hard way that a pretty cover does not mean a good book. Sigh.

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