I don’t buy the whole “you can’t judge a book buy its cover” shtick. It’s impossible not to. Whenever you put the book down, it’s there in your face. When you buy the book, it’s there in your face. It’s there. In your face. And you can’t not judge it. It’s like my theory on favorites: everyone has a favorite everything, even if they refuse to admit it. It’s human nature to prefer things to other things, to judge what you see in front of you.
So book designers have a tough job: the book they design has to be pretty enough to get you to buy it but not so pretty that it distracts the reader later. Case in point: Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm. I have the 2002 paperback edition from Back Bay Books and while it is a phenomenal design (I’m loving the simplicity and the coolness), it’s pretty distracting as I try to read the actual text. I’m just over fifty pages into the book, but I can’t stop checking out the cover. There are keys frozen in the ice! Perfect!
Then I get distracted because of how the book feels. I don’t know what kind of stock they used, but I just can’t stop touching it, rubbing my fingers across it. And then it’s got that new-book-smell. Really, I just can’t stop admiring the physical book to start admiring the story. Agh!
Does this happen to you?