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An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-07-21 16:22
Subject: [poll] Book cover art
Security: Public
Tags:art, books, lj, poll, publishing
ETA: If you found this page directly and are wondering what this is about, see the explanatory post here.

Poll #1227385 Book buying habits

Did you buy books before the Internet was generally available?

Of course.
There was life before the Internet?
No, I was raised in a basket by dust mice.

In those olden times, how did you select your bookstore purchases?

Looked for authors I knew or had been recommended.
Looked at interesting titles.
Looked at cover art.
I used the library, fool.
Dust mouse literature is very limited.

How much did cover art influence you?

Unicorns = fantasy, rockets = sf, what more do you need?
I was never the same after discovering Heavy Metal.
Didn't matter to me.
Something else I'll explain in comments.
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User: blzblack
Date: 2008-07-21 23:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I liked cool, funky looking stuff, like OMNI used for illustrations. Off beat.

But also the thrill of something wild & wooly was afoot: Like the colors in Roger Zelazny's Amber series during the 80s (I don't consistently like this artist's work, but here it was somehow magical).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-21 23:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think I have those editions at home, actually. Very saturated, right, with dark backgrounds?
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User: ygolonac
Date: 2008-07-21 23:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cover art did influence me and still does. Mainly by catching my eye somehow and getting me to pull that particular book down for a closer look instead of the books on either side of it.

Sometimes too, I'm in the mood for a particular type of book and the cover art might imply that a book is of the sort I'm looking for. It's really annoying when cover art lies though. If it's sort of 'artsy' cover art, then it can't really lie, but if it's more realistic and then has little or nothing to do with the inside, I get annoyed by it.

Back before the internet I could usually count on books with that spirally Del Rey logo on the cover to be pretty good. I got a bunch of those Del Rey paperbacks on my shelf.
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User: sheelangig
Date: 2008-07-21 23:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Covers make me pick it up, but the blurbs and the first paragraph and the other details can certainly make me put it back on the shelf.

I find it annoying as heck to have read a book and then look again at the cover and discover that the artist apparently did NOT read the book. I feel bad for the author and want to slap some suits around. And I'm not even in the business!
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Renegade Vagabond
User: khaybee
Date: 2008-07-21 23:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I worked in a genre book store, and was allowed to read anything in the store as long as I didn't crack the spine. I read many paperbacks that were only slightly open.
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Willis Couvillier
User: will_couvillier
Date: 2008-07-21 23:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was a reader/collector long before the internet. In fact I have like 5K + paperbacks and boxes of hb in storage, all pre-1989. My buying habits? Haunt the bookstores, liquor stores (there was one in my hometown that had racks of SF paperbacks. It's where I got my first 90 or so DAW collector numbers...

Also I answered ads in the back of mags. I really miss that original Change of Hobbit bookstore in California -- completed and obtained a LOT of my oldies thogh them!
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Sputtering with Indignation
User: weirman
Date: 2008-07-22 00:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Change of Hobbit is gone? That's tragic news. I used to love going in there back in the day.
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User: yourbob
Date: 2008-07-21 23:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As a teenage closet case, I admit to buying too many books with pretty men on the cover. No longer being a closet case or teenager, I buy fewer but haven't stopped looking at them when they're "faced". Still gets some attention, but I actually look for info on the story/author before taking it to checkout.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2008-07-21 23:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A cover might attract me, but I'd only buy the book if the insides actually looked interesting, too. And I ignored the covers for authors I knew and liked.

You know, of course, my own cover woe.
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Sputtering with Indignation
User: weirman
Date: 2008-07-21 23:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Before the internet cover art might draw me to pick up a book, but only to read the back cover or the flyleaf. Buying books was a rare treat for me and for that reason I chose carefully. I'd learned early on that the cover was often misleading, and it was a rare book that alone had a cover intriguing enough to buy on the strength of that alone.
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Mindy Klasky
User: mindyklasky
Date: 2008-07-22 00:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
At first, I ticked the box that said "cover art" but then I tried to figure out my answer to the third question, and I could not come up with a single example where I remembered choosing a book based on a cover. I know that I'm much more verbal than visual - in an art museum, I read the notes on the wall before I look at the painting. I think that wiring controls my book selection as well. (I can, though, tell whether a cover is good or bad, when I look at it...)
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User: gaaneden
Date: 2008-07-22 00:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cover art was good to catch my eye for authors I was not familiar with. Once it did that, I would read the back blurb to see if it was something I would be interested in.
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User: irismoonlight
Date: 2008-07-22 00:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cover art... s
Sometimes it stunned me with how wonderful it was, but I didn't buy the book because I was after something to read, not hang on my wall.

Sometimes it turned me off, but I bought it anyway because I liked the author/concept.

Once in a rare while I'd buy a book based on the cover art alone, but not very often.
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Brenda Cooper
User: bjcooper
Date: 2008-07-22 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: Cover Art
I often liked unusual covers. Simple often caught my eye. I also used cover art to separate out sub-genres - was it rocket stuff, people oriented, etc. It was also a way to avoid romance books, which I detested for years. A few times I even bought SECOND COPIES of books because I liked various versions of the cover art. That, of course, would be things like Hienlein's and Niven's and the like. Is that geeky or what?
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User: jtdiii
Date: 2008-07-22 00:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The cover might catch my eye, but it was the blurb that made me buy the book. I also have a general rule that any book that relies on reviews and quotes over a well written blurb is not worth buying.
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User: squirrel_monkey
Date: 2008-07-22 00:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Where's the option of 'we had to go through hell to buy books; cover art was irrelevant'?
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User: lindadee
Date: 2008-07-22 00:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't buy books based solely on the cover, but I do enjoy cover art. If a book has a nice (to me) cover, I'll read the blurb about the plot and determine if it's something I want to read.
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