A reader’s perspective on trying not to be shallow when choosing a book.
I don’t want to come off as being shallow (which just by saying this is making me shallow!) but I think as humans we really do judge each other on outward appearances. The other day we had my Dad over for dinner and he proved himself to be quite the character. With the advancement of his Alzheimer’s the filter on his mouth seems to be working less and some of the things that he says are pretty outrageous at times. We started playing a dinner party game that has a wide variety of topics in the form of questions on cards. Each person draws a card, reads it to the group and then everyone proceeds to answer it. One of the first questions my Dad drew was: “Would you rather be 10% smarter or 10% better looking?” How would you answer that? My Dad chose being 10% better looking. When asked why he would go that direction he said that those who are attractive get more attention and people are drawn to them socially. Is that true? Do we gravitate toward people who are pleasing to look at regardless of the intellectual connection?
I will admit that I’m not socially educated enough to be able to comment on this concept, but what I would like to do is put this in the context of LesFic. Let’s look at book covers in comparison to what is inside. How important is the cover in representing the book and does the cover relate to an intellectual connection that might be discovered within the pages? Danielle Zion made an excellent comment to me at one point and I’m going to try to capture her words (hopefully she will correct me if I’m drastically wrong), “I never bought a book because of a cover but I know I have chosen NOT to buy a book because of it’s cover.” In my opinion, which is not worth that much, readers connect to the appearance of the book the same way they connect to the characters within. If the cover is attractive and connects with them on some cosmetic level the reader may be more likely to read the blurb which would lead to the intellectual connection which ultimately could lead to the purchase of the book. Would that mean that if book covers were 10% better looking people would be more likely to buy them? According to my Dad’s way of thinking- yes!
I actually really love that the GCLS offers awards for best covers now and I’m adding some of those cover pictures throughout this blog. In this time frame where our niche market has more reading options than ever, I do believe that covers are becoming an integral part of defining authors as well as the status of our stories. Way, way back when there was one primary publishing house that released 1-2 books a month, it wouldn’t really matter what the cover looked like as long as it contained a story about lesbians that was positive and affirming. Now though, I do believe covers can be the pivotal point of a book sale. I mean I’m writing this blog topic because just today, I saw a cover that was so repulsive to me that I was actually a little mad. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the book, but in a way the author made an impression on me. It was definitely playing to the sexy look but over shot that by a million and landed in insulting. How judgmental and close minded can I be though right? But with the cover I felt like I was already being led down a certain path without even having cracked the book open. I was given a very specific picture of what the characters were supposed to look like and by their poses, what these two women would ultimately be doing (poorly with the positioning they had!). Is that too judgmental? Probably, and I’m sorry for this thought process but in a way I want to be intrigued by the cover enough to look at that blurb.
What about all you amazing LesFic readers out there, what are your thoughts about covers? Do you judge a book by it’s cover? Have you ever been proven wrong? I would love to hear your thoughts!