Every writer wants to have a good-looking cover on the new novel, right? But do covers really make any difference?

I'm thinking about hardback books here. (Paperbacks are different. I collect paperbacks, and I know.) But what I'm wondering is whether anybody really plunks down $25 or more for a hardback just because it has a good cover. Or a yellow cover. Or a cat. Or whatever. Is there any research to show that a James Patterson novel would sell fewer copies if it had a lousy cover? Or more copies if it had a good one?

In my case, I figure that if I'm lucky enough to get a couple of books into one of the big chain stores, the books will be stuck on the shelf with the spine facing out. Not one person in a million is going to pull out the book and look at the cover and decide to spend money on it, right?

Maybe I'm way off the beam here, but I don't think covers make much difference. What do you think?

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Good cover design has led me to discover a few new authors. Most recently is was Susan Kandel. I was at a bookstore with Judy Bobalik and saw the covers on two of Susan's books. They intrigued me enough to read the jacket copy and then to ask Judy if she'd read them. Well, it being Judy of course she had. I ended up buying both of them. It was Judy's recommendation that ultimately convinced me, but without those great covers I would never have even asked about them.
I would guess that at the moment when one considers whether or not to buy the book, or check it out from the library, the look of the book begins to matter more. Is this an object that I would like to own? Will it look good (or make me look good) on my shelf or coffee table? Will it help me get chicks?

My favorite book artwork is the wonderful front and back artwork on Joe Gores' Cons, Scams and Grifts. It looks good, it's pulpy and there is a visual joke that most people probably don't see. At least not right away.
If a book I was recommended happens to have a good cover, I'll enjoy holding it in my hands every time I pick it up. A good cover in the stores will attract me enough to check out the blurb, but if it's generic sounding after that, I'll put it back down. If it sounds good, I probably still won't buy it, but look up reviews first.

But, you know, I just love book covers.
Well as some one who buys a lot of books, hardcover and paperback, I have to say that a cover has never convinced me to buy a book. However a good cover may entice me to pick up a book and read the jacket. If I like what I read I'll take a chance on the book.

But really these days the majority of books I buy online so the cover is far less important. I think most of the books I buy are either ones from writers I already have read and liked or based on recommendations from other readers and/or the reviews. Those are far more important in my deciding what books to buy than the cover.
If the cover of THE SWORD OF ATTILA hadn't caught my eye, I might never have gotten around to Michael Curtis Ford. The color scheme, not the picture, which may useful to consider.

If Ford hadn't already had a good reputation for meaty historicals, I wouldn't have bought it, but the cover is what caught my attention. Then there was the first page, which addressed about five different layers of my consciousness...

I'm immensely grateful to that cover. :-)


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