Book Covers, Formats and other forms of pickiness

This blog post is inspired by Blooey‘s article in Manila Bulletin, about judging a book by its cover. We all know the famous saying about that, but we’re talking literal books here, and as far as I know, judging a literal book by its cover is not a crime. Or at least, not against any moral values, right?

After I read Blooey’s article, though, I realized one thing about myself: I don’t really judge books by their covers. Shocker. I always thought I did, but I realize, based on my last purchases, that I didn’t buy any books based on their covers, but for their blurbs and their reviews. When I am simply browsing (as in looking around with no intent to buy), I do pick books through their covers, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book because of their cover alone.

I think my choosing style for my books are based on the blurb and the reviews. I used to rely only on blurbs and not on reviews, because sometimes reviews are hard to decipher. Some books may have a high rating in Amazon, but I would end up not liking it so much. But after a few impulse buys that didn’t work out, I went back to the reviews. This time, I don’t only browse in Amazon but in Goodreads and other book blogs. Book blogs have been a blessing to me lately, and the more critical the reviewers are, the better. I want to know why the book is good when you say it is good, so blogs with 1 paragraph for their reviews saying how “good” the book is will not have me convinced. It’s only after I check out good, well-written reviews will I consider buying the book. My eyes tend to glaze over the cover, and I only really look at the cover of the book after I have purchased it.

I can’t deny, however, that there are books whose cover I got attracted to immediately. Take Mira Grant’s Feed, for example:

Feed by Mira Grant

Look at that bloody RSS logo on the cover :)

I suppose it was the geekery that attracted me to it. If you’re a blogger, the RSS logo should be very familiar to you (my friend Joni even saw it in a local morning TV show logo), so this cover naturally jumped out at me. If it weren’t for that, I doubt I would have paid attention to this book before I read a review at The Book Smugglers.

I would draw the line when it comes to getting book series. I have this (sometimes annoying) habit of getting all the books in a series even if I didn’t like the other books. If it’s a part of a series, I have to get the rest of the books, and I must always start with the first book (who would want to start with a second book?). This is why I read the entire Twilight series, and why sometimes I don’t like picking up books that have continuations because I don’t know when I’d be able to get the next book, or if it was worth my money. If I get the entire series, though, I have to get it all in the same format. They must be published by the same publisher, they must have the similar covers and they must have the same size.

Case in point: My collection of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next is horribly mismatched. My copy of The Eyre Affair is in UK trade paperback format. My copy of Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots are in US trade paperback format and my copy of Something Rotten and First Among the Sequels are in UK mass market paperbacks. I didn’t care much for covers and formats when I got these books, but when they’re on my shelf, they don’t look as pretty or organized as I wanted them to be. (I’d post a picture, but the books aren’t with me right now. Sorry. ^^ )

Second example: I have both paperbacks of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and City of Ashes. I couldn’t wait for the third book to go on paperback, but when I saw it on the shelves, I don’t have the heart to buy it because it was printed by another publisher and it is smaller than the first two paperbacks I have. :( I still haven’t bought it, and I’m considering splurging on a boxed hardbound set just so I have uniform copies. If only hardbound books are not so expensive.

And speaking of hardbound books. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times here, but I rarely, rarely buy hardbound books. I only buy it if (and only if) I couldn’t wait to read the book. Normally, I’m patient enough to wait for the paperback version. Besides being expensive, hardbound books are hard to carry, and take too much space. I have made some excuses to get hardbound books, like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, but for others that I don’t really need to read right now, I can wait. Long, if I have to.

Of course, I know hardbound books are sturdier…but my love for paperbacks is really just a matter of preference.

And if I really and truly can’t wait for the book and the hardbound version is still expensive…well, I can always get the ebook from Amazon, which is almost the same as its would be paperback price.

I’d like to think I’m not a really picky reader, but I guess in a way, I am. More than the cover or the format, I think what’s really important for a book is the content — no matter how pretty the cover is, if the contents are not so good, I will never learn to love the book.