Armchair BEA 2016: Aesthetics

We’ve all heard the old adage about judging a book by its cover, but I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of doing just that…I know I have and do judge a book by the cover. It doesn’t matter that most of my reading is done digitally if the cover is atrocious or just aesthetically unappealing, I’m not drawn to the book. I strive to put this aside when I’m asked to review a book and the blurb/synopsis sounds intriguing. Having said that, nothing can turn me off more than a bad cover. Yes, I could show you some examples of bad cover art, but I don’t want to take another look at the horrific covers out there. You know the ones I’m talking about, the amateurish covers that look as if they were hand-drawn, are woefully out-of-proportion, and are so bad that they elicit an “ugh” response. 

One of the reasons I’m not overly fond of cozy mysteries is that the covers are a bit cartoonish for my taste. I’m guilty of judging books by their covers, especially when it comes to my personal reading. One of my reading pet peeves is when the cover either doesn’t seem to match the theme or plot in the book OR if the cover appears to be a hodge-podge of clip art thrown together without rhyme or reason. 

Is it possible I’ve missed out on some great books by casting them aside due to the cover images? Yes, it is. However, given the multitude of books available and the vast number of books on my ever-growing TBR list, I’ll have to continue to miss out on reading these books…unless or until the covers are professionally redesigned.

Brand Appeal

There are thousands of book blogs on the internet. Most are quite professional in their look and feel and highly distinctive, so much so that it is possible to pull a page from a blog and instantly know which blogger it belongs to. These bloggers have an instantly recognizable brand. It might be the graphics they use, the format of their blog posts, or even the language used in their posts. 

I’m still in the process of establishing my brand and my focus is on the uniformity in formatting review posts and my language. Almost all of my review posts for the past few years begin with the title and author, followed by the ISBNs and publication format (hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook, and Kindle formats), publisher, and publication date. This information is generally accompanied by a graphic of the cover and the synopsis. I’ve recently started linking the author’s name with the author’s website (if available).

My actual review usually begins with a quick summary of the book, followed by a detailed discussion of the action. The last paragraph of the review is normally my opinion of the book. Did I like it or not? Was the book a fast read? (Since I usually read a book a day, I gauge this on how quickly I read the book — a few hours versus the entire day.) Did I enjoy the characters and if so, why? If I finish the book and didn’t really like it, I’ll try to explain why it didn’t appeal to me. 

Another part of my “brand” is the use of the color purple when highlighting text. You probably guessed that purple is my favorite color, so I use it in varying shades in my blog posts. My “brand” is still evolving and I hope that over the next few years this brand will become just as much a part of my blog image as my review formatting and language.