That saying has been around so long and has become such an everyday expression in our society that I think the meaning has been lost. I think most folks interpret this as meaning that even if a book has a crappy cover, the inside may be a delight. Well, I guess I won’t argue that too much. It could certainly be the case after all. These days though, there could be a flip-side meaning.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that self publishing – either electronically or through DIY publishers - is on the rise. As a writer I can see distinct advantages to this. As a reader, it makes my job a tough one indeed. I recently got a hold of a book that professed brilliance prose, filled with delightful and well true to life characters. The back cover contained quips from other authors raving, raving, raving. I was excited to start reading the book. A few chapters into it and I’m less than impressed. The characters are flat and in one case I just wasn’t able to get a visual on a particular character. I went back over what I had already read and the reason became clear. This character who holds a primary spot in the cast has not been physically described. I don’t need to know nose hair color but a generalphysical helps to visualize who this person is.
The point here is that if I was in a bookstore and purchased this based on the cover info I would have been duped. Since I obtained the book through other means, this ended up a non-dupe situation.
When I worked at the library, I processed the new books coming through. Hundreds a month, so I was exposed to a lot of salesmanship vis-a-vis crafty covers. I ended up checking out a stinker or two based on cover info.
Today, I can purchase a book for download straight to my Kindle from the Amazon site. Aha, you say. Problem solved. No cover material to sway me. Dang. Not true at all, and possibly worse than just a book cover to make my judgment. Do I believe the description provided by the author or publisher? Hee-hee. That’s a good one. Oh, how about the blurb from Publisher’s Weekly? Okay, there is a bit more credibility there. However, it is still written by a critic. Any of you head for the hills when you hear a movie is “critically acclaimed?” Yup. me too.
As well, I generally don’t trust the book reviews that are on the Amazon page. Unless there are hundreds of reviews that are all 5 star and I’m still a bit suspicious of those. I (tried to) read a book that was lauded with 5 star paragraphs for its brilliant pov. It sucked and was totally unbelievable. 5 year olds don’t relate to things the way this book would have you believe.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a naysayer who thinks that everything sucks. In fact, I have a tendency to “5 star” stuff that I read if I even remotely like it.
So where do readers go to get accurate and objective information about what is out there to read? One of the places I’ve found that seems to be growing in popularity is Goodreads. I’ve found the reviews there to be generally thoughtful and accurate. I highly recommend checking it out and signing up.
Readers these days have more options than ever. In some ways the many options have made our life more difficult in terms of not taking a stinker home.
As a reader, how do you determine what to read?