6 comments on “Judging A Book By Its Cover

  1. Thank you, George.

    You are correct. Many jazzy book covers belie disappointing content. I liken this to the listings in the newspaper about the most “popular” movies on DVD for the past week.

    From my own personal “man on the street” people-watching at the video store, many, if not most potential buyers have no clue what they want to watch, so they just read the liner notes or buy based on the cool graphic on the outside.

    I choose to look for reviews of films and books from respected sources, especially from reviewers in the film or literary genre that I most enjoy, that being the emerging talents of indie filmmakers and indie writers who are sweeping the ebook world.

    It is in this “indie” arena that some of the most cutting-edge art can and will be found. There you will find the home of the brave. It may not have big box-office stars or explosions or vampires but I can guarantee you that it will have a dynamic plot and a real story arc filled with powerful word-pictures that will give your mind something to write home about.

    I just joined Goodreads today and will be interested to see how it lives up to its own “cover.”

    Wayne C. Long
    Ebook author of “Stories from the Edges”

  2. George,

    I love Goodreads and many–perhaps most–of the reviews are helpful. But it depends on who’s writing the review. When I get an update email I skim through it and look first at who the review or rating is from. Then I decide whether or not to read the review. In one case, the “reviewer” is a company that writers pay for reviews, and every single book they “review” gets 5 stars. In other cases, the reviews may be good, but I’ve learned that my tastes don’t match those of the reviewer. So if Reviewer A liked the book, there’s a good chance I won’t like it. The review is still helpful to me even if I just skim it, because I’ve learned not to read to that book. :-) I read every review from other reviewers because I trust their honesty and know that I will get a fair evaluation of the book.

  3. You BET I judge a book by it’s cover! If it doesn’t look exciting enough to pick up, there’s no next step: checking the story line and reviews on the back. Having arrived at Step 2, I do look for professional testimonials, like Publishers Weekly or a newspaper critic. But the comments I actually believe are those by authors of the same genre, misc. celebs, or regular readers. The way I figure it, no one’s investing in amazing art if the story isn’t amazing. And unpaid accodades are nearly always more reliable and descriptive than presswriter hype.

    There’s a glaring exception. And it’s only happened once. I ordered a book sight unseen because of a fantastic article, “Better Late Than Early” (that had no bearing on the book) by Elle Newmark. I mean, the woman can write. The Book of Unholy Mischief duly arrived sans jacket BUT the plain hardcover binding was imbued with a haunting, incense-like fragrance that filled the room right out of the box. It’s still quite noticeable within 3 feet. No one has an answer for it; not the author, publisher, Amazon, bookseller, shipper, or post office. The mystery remains. But be it known that the book is every bit as good as it smells!

  4. I actually pay more attention to the four-star reviews on Amazon. They’re the ones most likely to be genuine.

    3-star reviews often focus on problems with the text, which can be helpful, especially with political/philosophical/scientific essays.

    For the most part I ignore the 1-star reviews.

    Much like you, when a book is praised by a deluge of 5-star reviews, I get suspicious.

    • Bell,

      Yep. Through out the top and the bottom and what you’re left with is probably the most accurate. Although I put down “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” after 100 pages. Couldn’t make it through the rest – and that sucker had stellar reviews all over the place!


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