30 October 2009

How Much Do UF Covers Influence your Purchases?

There have been a lot of new covers posted lately for upcoming urban fantasy books (I posted 15 this month alone), and even more discussion as to the role cover art plays in book sales.  I’m wondering, how much do covers influence your purchases?


Ann Aguirre expressed concern over this topic when she unveiled the cover for her upcoming Corine Solomon book, Hell Fire:

image “…if you compare it to other urban fantasy titles, you’ll find this is quite different. They went for a more realistic style; they also avoided using tatts or leather, which is cover art shorthand for urban fantasy these days. I’m a little concerned by that choice. While I appreciate they want to create a distinctive brand for me, I’m not sure how new readers are going to find me...Random browsers [are] looking for women with tramp stamps, tattoos and leather pants. Never mind that doesn’t really represent the series–it doesn’t in other cases too. But maybe this makes me stand out from the crowd? I’m hoping that’s the case.”

I tend to like the ‘cover art shorthand for urban fantasy’ including tattoos, leather, weapons etc.  I at least know what to expect from the book.  I don’t think Hell Fire is a bad cover, but it wouldn’t necessarily draw me in as a random browser. 

Like when meeting someone for the first time, covers are usually the author/publishers first chance to make an impression (i.e. compel me to buy a book). Now granted there are other factors involved (description, reviews, blurbs by authors I like etc.), but covers provide that first instant attraction…or lack thereof. 

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review recently asked her readers to compare the US and UK covers (the black one is a third cover I found, not sure from where) for Kelley Armstrong’s new  book Frostbitten.         

                   US                                  UK                                       ??

imageimage

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The overwhelming response choose the UK version.  Not me.  I was US cover all the way.  I wouldn’t have given the UK cover a second glance.  It certainty wouldn’t make me think urban fantasy.  The third one, maybe.  Having read Bitten, I know Kelley likes the zoomed in body part look, but the protruding spine would otherwise lead me to think corpse aka crime novel.  If Kelley Armstrong wasn’t prominately displayed on the front, which would you choose?

Like in life, appearances can only get you so far.  Ultimately its what’s inside that counts.  To butcher Marilyn Monroe’s quote, "Don't you know that a [cover] being [gorgeous] is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?" ...I have to agree. 

Here are some of my favorite upcoming covers.  Here’s hoping they read as good as they look:

 image image image image

 

12 comments:

  1. I am shameless, I love a good book cover. That's what drew me into Fantasy many years ago, before the Urban Fantasy Craze. I loved all the swords, kingdoms, sorcerers, sorceresses, etc. Now that UF has made a leap in popularity, their covers are smoking HOT. Now, I love Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax and the cover art too, I am not so sure about Hell Fire's cover. It's not so much the IMAGE that is the issue, it's the colors for me. It looks cheap. Her other books don't have that look.

    I am all for the US cover of Frostbitten myself!

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  2. Wow, I've seen that deadtown cover before, and it's just magnificent. The title, too. Ann Aguirre has a point, I think it's risky, what they did. Though it worked out for Nicole Peeler - everyone loves that cover.

    I know from personal experience that this is the case with titles, too - you can think of the most cool, perfectly descriptive title for your book, but if it doesn't feel like a UF title, you can't have it. I mean, it makes sense. The publishers have to sell books.

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  3. Oh, also, I wonder if, as people buy more on the internet and more ebooks, that the cover becomes less important?

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  4. Oh see i've always been a fan of the UK covers for every Kelley Armstrong book. And it's the same thing with Frosbitten i love the UK cover, but since i didn't want to wait to get it i bought the US version.
    The cover is very important for me of course it's not everything but as you mentioned there are a lot of urban fantasy books being released and a great book cover could tempt me in buying this book instead of that one. Shallow? maybe but it would be harder for me to read a book with a butt-ugly cover.
    I love the covers for the new releases you posted all 5 books are already on my TBR-list ;)

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  5. Oh see i've always been a fan of the UK covers for every Kelley Armstrong book. And it's the same thing with Frosbitten i love the UK cover, but since i didn't want to wait to get it i bought the US version.
    The cover is very important for me of course it's not everything but as you mentioned there are a lot of urban fantasy books being released and a great book cover could tempt me in buying this book instead of that one. Shallow? maybe but it would be harder for me to read a book with a butt-ugly cover.
    I love the covers for the new releases you posted all 5 books are already on my TBR-list ;)

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  6. I love covers! However, I don't let it sway me when I decide to buy a book - at least I try not to let it:) However, I do think covers are very important, especially to people standing in a bookstore, browsing who have no idea what they want.

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  7. Thanks for including Deadtown in your list of upcoming books with great covers! I really got lucky with my cover art.

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  8. Carolyn, I wonder about the importance of covers with ebooks too. For me, even if I was browsing ebooks, the cover is what would make me stop and read the description.

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  9. I'll admit...I'm drawn to shiny covers. Cover art has influenced many of my purchases.

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  10. If I'm not mistaken, the black Frostbitten cover is for the Canadian version. I could be wrong, but I remember seeing it somewhere before and that was what they said it was.

    I'm a cover junkie myself. I love looking at all the pretty covers with their explosions and guns and magic and whatnot. The "cover art shorthand for urban fantasy" doesn't bother me either and a lot of times it's done really well.

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  11. I am a big fan of cover art but being in the UK we always get the 'alternative' as in KA's Frostbitten with a blue cover - no way as relevant to the book or genre. However Ann Aguirre's cover of Blue Diablo and Hell Fire in the UK are smoking hot. So it's not always a bad thing. I am lucky that I have relatives in the US that read some similar stuff to me and send over the alternative cover versions for me to have. I love love love the Dresden US covers but not the UK they are dull dull dull

    Kelle.

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