I was recently telling a quick anecdote about how, as a bookseller, I used to recommend books to customers based on their covers. Now, I know we were all taught not to do that thing where we judge yada yada yada… but hear me out.
I’m a slow reader and I am not ashamed of it. I read for the enjoyment of words and style and writing. Unfortunately, that made me a not-too-well-read bookseller. Some of my co-workers were (and still are, I’m sure) ferocious readers and I respected them mightily. I had a shortlist from which to recommend (Michael Perry, anyone?) so what I came up with was a mental stockpile of books of which I kind of knew the writing styles, plots, characters, type of fans, or of similar authors. I took note of their covers and grouped them with other books of the same type. I would recommend those to customers and wouldn’t you know it? Those recommendations worked! Now, customers didn’t often come back to tell me that their recommendation worked, but there were a few that did and I guess that is as good a cross-section of positive reactions that I need to come to this conclusion. I still remember a customer who came in looking for a good mystery writer and while I never read a single one of Lee Child’s novels, I recommended his work to her based on whom she had read before and she came back to rave that I nailed it. She was in love. I felt pretty good.
This is a good time to mention I never recommended books just to sell a book; I always sold with integrity, as did my lovely co-workers. If I didn’t have a recommendation at the time, I would have asked them for suggestions, which I did all the time.
So book covers have helped me out a lot. And they are quite awesomely designed a lot. Then why is it so hard to find the name of the designer who created it? If you read my last post, you may have noticed I had trouble giving credit to an image I posted. It was quite frustrating, as bloggers know attribution is a major issue on the internet; why is this respect so lacking towards book cover designers? Enlighten me, if you have any information. I truly want to know.
In the meantime, check out this awesome site: The Book Cover Archive (hat tip to a former co-worker who posted the link on Facebook). They post pics of awesome designs and even feature designers. Here are some of my faves:
All images from The Book Cover Archive, copyright of their respective publishers.