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Friday, October 24, 2008

What jacket helps a book sell?

My last post elicited a very interesting comment from bookseller Amber Thody. Fascinated by the idea of jackets selling books, she confided that she found the cover of the Fall catalogue she had received from Canadian publisher Talonbooks quite enchanting.

So I asked her to send along an image of the cover that had fascinated her so -- which she very kindly agreed to do, adding:

I don't know if you can really see the pic clearly - it is a misty mystery of sepia forest growing up into typewriter keys. Not keys. The arm things that fly back and forth to the ribbon when you bang the keys. Do they have a name? Stampy arm-banging things. Anyway this is the one I want to hug and kiss and stroke every day.

The other one is HB Fenn's latest, and I included it because this is what southwestern Ontario looks like right now and it's beautiful. My route to work involves a lot of countryside and I go past immense fields of pumpkins. They are hidden to me in the dark mornings, but burst forth in the startling sparkly blue afternoons every day.

I would be interested to know what others think of these two catalogue covers. I love the one with the pumpkins. They jump out of the image, and make a statement -- because of perspective, atmosphere, and color. This feeling is confirmed by a conversation I had yesterday with one of Wellington's most wellknown sons, bookseller, publisher, and bibliophile Hugh Price. When I asked him which jackets sold best, he instantly said, "The warm colors -- red, maroon, orange. Blues and greens are cool and uninviting," he added.


Jacqueline Simonds said...

I am mad for the Talonbooks catalog cover. That is just spectacular - intriguing and imaginative.

Can't say I care much for the pumpkin cover. It's nice, but it doesn't say books or words. I'd expect it to contain tractor parts or mucklucks.

Speaking as someone who wallows in cover design questions every day - and who is not actually the one who designs them - this is the hardest issue we face. Because people *do* judge a book by its cover (books being ideas wrapped in product packaging), it is the single most important marketing decision to be made (after, um, do you think anyone will buy this book?).

Jacqueline Simonds
Beagle bay, Inc.
Books that enlighten and inspire.

Amber said...

Oh! Oh! I disagree!

About the blue, I mean. Go here:

This blue pulls you all the way in. It's the polar opposite of uninviting. (which I suppose is 'inviting', but that doesn't even approach the pull of this. It's like compulsion. It makes me gasp. What's the biggest word for 'inviting' there is?)