This week’s question comes from Julie, who asks:
While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?
It is a given that people do judge books by their covers, at least initially. While the final decision to read or not to read a book may not rest on the artwork on the cover, it still can and does make a difference in certain cases. How many times have you come across a book that caught your attention because of the cover, whether it be the artwork or the title, one that you hadn't considered reading before or was not on your list? In these instances I often pause and take time to look a little closer, find out what the book is about, and if it is something I am interested in I might add it to my wish list or even my TBR collection. Likewise, I might not bother to check out those random books that have a cover or title that fails to capture my interest or draw me in at all. Of course, when the book is by a favorite author or of a subject matter that interests me, the cover matters very little.
The cover of The Historian and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are examples of books whose covers first caught my fancy and had me eager to look inside. The trade paperback version I have of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated would have been a big turn off for me had I not looked beyond the cover, however, it is a book I ended up enjoying quite a bit. I am not too keen on the covers of the Stephanie Plum novels either, but I have found that the books guarantee that I will be laughing aloud. Bright covers with big letters usually do not garner my interest, I'm afraid.
I much prefer the cliche that it is what is inside that counts because that is what is most important to me. While the cover of a book may draw me to it in the first place, no matter how attractive the cover may be, it will not impact my enjoyment of a book nor will an unattractive cover detract from my reading experience in any way.
Fortunately my eyesight is not so bad to deter me from books printed in a smaller font. Yet. I am not at all picky about the style of the font, and, to be honest, do not even notice it most of the time. I admire nice illustrations inside books, but they are not necessary nor do they play a part in why I choose to read a book. As for size of the book and format, I discussed that at length back in February here.
While initially I may judge a book by its cover, it is a temporary impression that can easily be changed once I find out what is inside a book. What the author has to tell me is what really matters. The words written on the pages, the story told, the characters and setting that are brought to life . . . All of this is what matters most to me.