Reading 2017: Importance of Book Covers (from the IndieBRAG Cover Contest Series)

A few months back I visited with Stephanie, who at that time helped organize indieBRAG‘s cover contest. It was another opportunity for me to chat about book covers and the role they play in my reading and blogging, and it was a lot of fun!

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Book cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories, and often times readers first judge a book by its cover. This year indieBRAG has put together a cover contest of books chosen by the indieBRAG Team. These covers were chosen based on several factors including; 1) professionalism 2) visual appeal 3) creativity and 4) fit with the story/genre.

This week we have asked the ladies of the indieBRAG Interview Team to discuss with us the importance of book covers, what they like, want to see more of and so on. Today Lisl talks with us about this.

Lisl, on the scale one to five, how important are book covers to you?

I’d probably say in between four and five. Though I add the caveat that there have been books with solid color covers I’ve enjoyed. If a work’s premise appeals to me, I won’t not read it because of a dull jacket, but it is so that such a cover lessens the chances I’ll be drawn closer and discover the richness between the pages.

Why are they important to you?

A fantastic cover often draws me to a book, even from across a room (or stack). It will make a statement or offer some insight or perspective to the story, or even provide food for further thought that wasn’t necessarily addressed in the book, at least not directly. Sometimes it’s just beautiful or striking in a way that makes me want to experience the pleasure of simply taking it in.

What do you not like in book covers?

Despite my comment above about solid covers, I really don’t care for them. They’re bland and don’t provide any kind of visual peek into the world the story’s characters inhabit, which I really love. I can understand an author preferring not to have images of characters; some want to leave that visualization up to reader interpretation, and I respect that. However, not to have any image, pattern or design detracts from the experience of reading a book—reading the cover is an integral part of the event. The lacking even strikes me as a bit lazy.

What would you like to see more of in covers?

Hmmm … I wasn’t really sure how to answer this at first, so I did a quick examination of five covers I especially like. One, for 1066: What Fates Impose, by Glynn Holloway, is fairly straightforward, with minimal but forceful design that takes a stand, replicating the martial tone threaded throughout the novel. The image on Sarah Bruce Kelly’s Vivaldi’s Muse is the partial reproduction of a Lefebvre painting, which in particular sets a tone, with its creative beauty and expression, and absolutely spot-on colors, that exactly matches the personality of the historical character portrayed within—plus it’s a picture not often seen within the reproductive market (greeting cards, coasters, books, etc.) The other three show images with lots of detail and space for commentary on the themes: Anna Belfrage’s A Rip in the Veil’s girl walking away from the viewer is surrounded by a host of detail meaningful to the theme, as is the warrior on Paula Lofting’s Sons of the Wolf (first edition). And finally, Annie Whitehead designed a magnificent cover for Alvar the Kingmaker that reflects—literally even, what with items mirrored in a crown’s arch—contemplations of the past and present for the people involved, as well as their future and that of others: strands of life that touch multiple lives, including those yet to come, in this world and the next.

Despite the various styles these book covers all have, it’s easy to recognize that the statements made by or the reading of them provide strong and meaningful links to what happens within the narratives. The characters might even recognize themselves or something close to their identity within the images, and if that’s the case, then surely it is all the more striking for a reader. Moreover, the various styles of these covers indicate that there are many ways to achieve this intimacy and insight. 

So I suppose the short(er) answer would be that I’d really love to see covers with more connection to the people and places that populate the books. Their lives and events depicted meant enough to put them to paper, so why not go all the way?

How many books have you read this year thus far? 

Well, 34 to be precise, though I confess I haven’t even looked at one portion of my goal (sci-fi), which focuses more on genre this year than numbers.

Do you participate in cover contests by voting for your favorite? 

I would if I knew about them! I love examining and interpreting covers, though it is true I haven’t been online quite as much recently as in the past, so I’m sure I miss a lot. Which is why I was so excited to learn about indieBRAG’s contest—even as an observer.

When writing a book review do you consider the covers to be part of your rating the book?

Truth be told, I’m not in love with star ratings, and don’t use them (except within online social cataloging sites that make me, in order to post reviews). My reviews tend to be non-linear and contain a touch of the analytical; how much I enjoyed each work can be determined by my words. But as a more direct answer, I typically don’t talk about covers, at least not at great length. This is partly because my entries are a bit longer than many other reviews, and adding too much more might on occasion become a bit weighty for some readers. Also, for better or worse, not all books have covers that bear much discussion.

How much do you blog per week and how much do you talk about book covers?

Also for better or worse, my blogging has to be scheduled around my family and work, so I don’t have a set number of entries per week, though I try to do at least one. (That doesn’t always happen!) I have done a couple of cover crushes, after the practice initiated by a fellow blogger and indieBRAG reviewer, and would love to do more. Sometimes I make mention of covers in reviews, though for the reasons stated above I don’t always.

It’s been great chatting with you, Stephanie, about book covers—and as always, I thoroughly enjoyed the get-together!

A pleasure, Lisl! Thank you for visiting today.

Link to another interview with Lisl here.

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Well, my book count has increased since this interview originally published, and you can see what I’ve read here (and what I’m still reading, here). I do confess, however, I remain behind in my sci-fi ….

Also, you won’t want to miss: Stephanie’s blog, Layered Pages, and her fun new endeavor, Novel Expressions, a Facebook page that in January shall be expanding into a blog well worth marking your calendar for. She’ll be partnering with Erin, whose own blog, Flashlight Commentary, is birthplace of the cover crush spoken of above. 

Previous entries in the Reading 2017 series:

Readers’ Chat with Stephanie Hopkins

Origins of the Challenge

Reading Challenge 2017

New Genre Library (True Crime): Murder in Greenwich

The Importance of Book Covers (Book Blogger Group Chat)

New Genre Library (Graphic Novel): The Metamorphosis

New Genre Library is a three-part spinoff series of Reading 2017

Upcoming:

New Genre Library (Science fiction): Title TBA

And a fun entry to round out the year!

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My Tottering TBR: Reads of 2015

Strictly speaking, I suppose this isn’t really a blog about my tottering TBR, given these are books I’ve read this year. Never mind! Some of them are titles I plan to read again, others may very well end up being re-read. All of them are worth passing the word on, and so I hope I can pick up this chunk of my pile and add it to yours–unless, of course, you’ve already got them.

In which case I’d say, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Stay tuned for reviews upcoming, scroll back in time to check out some of my thoughts on a few of these books. 🙂

Happy New Year, and long may you read and nourish your soul!

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Side Note: I received The Giver DVD as a present last year, though, being subject to our household rule re: reading the book before seeing the film, made a trip to the library. I’d actually read the book years ago but remembered very little of it. The re-read was worth every moment and for those aiming to choose a title for their book club, it is my number one pick. Everyone who values freedom needs to read this dystopian novel, which would be among the first for the burn pile in a totalitarian society.

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The image curiously without a cover? Well, not sure why it turned out that way on Goodreads, but I decided to make it a little fun and let that one be a surprise. Hint: There’s a related anniversary coming up and this book was one of my biggest surprises of 2015. There were a few I’d been fearful I wouldn’t dig, but did. This one, however, was a topic I’d previously steered clear of, but instead re-introduced to me an historical figure I completely fell for. Huzzah to breaking barriers!

I’ll be publishing my review for this one soon.

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I love George Washington and can’t get enough of books about our Revolution, so George Washington’s Secret Six was a delightful find, especially given my own early spy aspirations. Interestingly, this batch of books concerns oppression of many different sorts, a sad commentary on history, truth be told–that we could find so many ways to write about tyranny, individual as well as collective. However, I remain steadfast in my belief that history must be remembered no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel–and passed on truthfully: no whitewashing and no omissions based on standards of today. We owe our ancestors so much, and remembering their struggles, even in fictional form, is the very least we can do. In the case of novels such as The Unwanteds, which, like The Giver, is not historical, we do recall societies in which many of these standards were implemented–or rigid rules were, ostensibly for the protection of the people–and aim to pass to our children the same freedoms we enjoyed.

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This year I continued an historical fiction series I’d begun in 2014 and couldn’t get enough. I got to read a few of my son’s choices and began to write my thanks in a series called “Ordinary People”–a nod to those regular, everyday people who courageously performed acts of selflessness for the benefit of others, often at risk to their own lives. This series will be continuing in 2016 as, despite the state of the world today, there is no shortage of these brave souls, only widespread recognition of their achievements.

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Surprises came with a few of these lovelies: as I was in the midst of reading Northwest of Eden I knew I would review even before I’d finished reading. Force 12 in German Bight captured me entirely and I am privileged to have edited a work that was more than just a job, as the fiction fantasy of The Dead Gods gripped my attention with the amazing story and its author’s gift with words.

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A sequel I knew I wanted to read before it was written; an Alamo story I sunk my teeth into and my first read of an author so astute in the ways of various viewpoints I long for the next one by her (on my bookshelf as we speak). Also: A fantastically fun and poignant story in Witch Ever Way You Look At It  that I couldn’t put down.

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A couple of reviews upcoming from more authors I yearn to read more of. I don’t want to give too much away on these, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Do stay tuned for more reviews in upcoming days as well as other musings.

May you have a wonderful 2016, with books and otherwise.

Happy New Year!