Can you judge a book by its cover?
I think so. There was a time when books were hidden by nostalgic looking bindings with title printed across the front, and if lucky the binding. The number of books were fewer, we are talking the 1940s and 50s, and the cost to publish and distribute was far greater.
The book industry changed in the 60s and 70s with the advent of better presses and better graphics, but the covers were still pretty basic. I think the saying that “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” really had some credence up until this point. Great books were released with some fairly basic stuff. The 80s and 90s changed all of that and is looked on as some of the hay days of modern publishing.
Today’s book publishing industry has changed dramatically. The advent of the digital e-book has turned the industry on its head. It has become nearly impossible to become a published author in a traditional publishing house. At the same time, it has become very easy to e-publish or self-publish.
This phenomenon has increased the amount of readable material. Some of it really good, but the wave of self-pub has increased the amount of crappy literature available as well.
Modern graphics and computers have changed the way books are viewed. It is often the first thing that people look at when entering a bookstore, or searching online. The cover has to grab you, or you will be inclined to pass it over to something more professional looking.
It can cost thousands for a great cover design. E-publishers that don’t put the time and money into a cover can do themselves more harm than good. A cheap cover may mean cheap, unprofessional writing. It’s not always the case, but readers reason that if an author isn’t going to spend the money on a cover, are they going to spend it on editing?
My book, Devil in the Grass has been edited four times now by professional editors. I think that it shows. It’s amazing what you don’t catch on your own.
Thumbnail covers on Amazon are also of great importance, because this is how readers may be getting the first look at your book. These small motifs need to be well done and having a cover that has impact even at thumbnail size is something that designers take into account.
People value their time and want a professionally well done book if they are going to invest 10+ hours reading it. I am blessed to have a great publisher, who includes expert cover design as part of my publishing deal. And I now have two great covers that can be voted for at koehlerbooks.com…