Can a cover trick a reader?

Can a cover 'trick' a reader?

My favorite cover snark artist doesn't think so.

"The back cover billed this book as a feminist-historical-fiction-fantasy hybrid. So, I thought "what the heck!" and purchased.

About 2 pages in - upon reading the physical description of the strikingly beautiful main character, Ariane, and the subsequent physical descriptions of her strikingly beautiful younger sisters - I realized I had been tricked! This book is more a Romance novel than anything else, albeit a slightly more substantial and far more engaging read than most "bodice rippers." "

How can a cover "trick" you? It's an inanimate object!


The above is a quote from the Amazon review of this book:



Covers can trick readers as much as movie previews can trick viewers. You see a preview (or a cover) and you expect a certain type of movie. That expectation can be misleading (egregious movie examples lately being, say, Stepmom - a downer about cancer disguised as a romantic comedy).

It's pretty clear to me that the above cover is meant to evoke the feel of the Dorothy Dunnett covers. Check out the font:



My question is (back to books), when is it a good idea? Will a publisher entice more readers than they alienate? Is it a good idea for publishers to put a 'historical fiction' cover on a romance? Is it 'cheating'?

4 comments:

Richard Mason said...

The most atrocious form of cover trickery is when the publisher tries to fool you about who wrote the book.

I was defrauded in this way by Philip Jose Farmer's The Black Tower. Read a number of crappy chapters before realizing the book wasn't by Philip Jose Farmer, it was by Joe Schmoe, whose name appeared nowhere on the cover. This was twenty years ago when the idea of plastering a famous author's name on someone else's book was, I think, less common.

I don't think I could get angry in the same way about a choice of font or cover design, though.

Maxine said...

Do people who design and draw book covers read the book first, do you think?
Come to think of it, do the people who write the blurbs read the book first?

mapletree7 said...

Do people who design and draw book covers read the book first, do you think?

Hell no. Book cover designers would spend all their time reading if they had to read the books first.

Come to think of it, do the people who write the blurbs read the book first?

Blurbs are collaborative - people who have read the book are definitely involved, but so are people who have not.

Adi said...
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