I went book shopping this weekend at the local Borders liquidation sale, and since I didn’t have any particular books in mind, I spent a good amount of time pulling books off the shelf, looking at the cover, reading the blurb, and putting them back. One book I picked up was Ask Again Later by Jill Davis. It was the cover art that caught my attention:
It’s a nice cover with one image to latch onto. So I put the book in my growing stack of maybes (after all, I was on a budget), and moved on. Just one shelf down, I picked up another book. “Gee, this cover looks appealing. So appealing, I feel like I’ve already picked it up,” I thought. And then I realized I had already picked it up. It was the Jill Davis cover, only the woman was wearing a blue sweater. That was absolutely the only difference, besides the fact it was a different title, a different author, and a different publishing house.*
That’s a big mistake. I don’t know much about designing for a book, but I would guess that the image of the woman is copyrighted. And I would guess that two major publishing houses don’t generally share covers on purpose.
Someday, maybe, I’ll find out the reasons behind this snafu. For now, the conclusion I draw is this: cover art actually matters. It matters because it made me pick up the book twice. And it matters because when I realized they were the same cover, I put both books down in something akin to disgust. I’ve seen similar reactions from people who see books with covers very similar to the Twilight trilogy; repulsed by the publisher’s ploy to pull in the Stephanie Meyer market, they shy away from the books. In the end, readers do judge books by their covers, and publishers take advantage of that. Sometimes, though, it just doesn’t work out.
*I didn’t write down the other author’s name so I can’t find the suspicious cover now, but when I do I will update this post with the picture for comparison.