Of Shampoos and Book Covers

I like my shampoo. It does everything I need it to (well, admittedly I don’t get that thick mass of lustrous curls that the model on TV flings over her shoulder, but it gets my hair clean) and I like its fragrance. I’ve been using the same brand for several years and wasn’t planning to switch to anything else.

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Then I ran short and went shopping for more. That’s when I did what I normally would never do. I bought something on impulse because I liked the packaging. It was still shampoo and it was still the same brand.  The blurb on the bottle said it was a new natural formula – I did read it… honestly, I did — but what sold me was the soft green design and lid.  It drew me like a magnet. It also matched my bathroom. Sold! Even though it doesn’t smell as nice as the other formula, I’ll continue to use this one and probably buy more when it’s gone. Did I mention I really love that green?

We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but covers do help sell books. Yes, we’ll read the back cover blurb and make sure the genre is what we’re looking for, but the likelihood is that the cover will be the first thing that catches our attention.

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What is it about a book’s cover that draws you to pick it up? How likely are you to buy a book with an unappealing cover design?

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15 thoughts on “Of Shampoos and Book Covers

  1. Laura Best says:

    If I’m honest, the cover of a book can really draw me in. I have, in the past, bought a book simply because I loved the cover—along with the blurb—but the cover was the first thing that caught my attention. The cover sets the tone for the entire book. I happen to think it’s pretty important and hopefully, the content will live up to its cover.

  2. So true, Carol! We are pleased by the things we see, first, and this is true for products, as well as books.

    Soft colors, muted pictures, crisp designs all get me when it comes to novel covers. I have a general idea of what I’d one day like my own to look like. 🙂

    • I’m with you on the soft colours and mutes pictures. I’m drawn to landscapes rather than people, too. I try not to think much about what I’d like my covers to look like because I know professionals will make a more knowledgeable choice but I’ll be hoping for simplicity in the design.

  3. joylene says:

    Okay, first I really need to know if the new shampoo worked! I have about 5 different brands in my cupboard. I alternate because otherwise it feels as if my hair accumulates a thick layer of excess shampoo and I need to strip it off. Different shampoo use doesn’t seem to build up. But really, what do I know. The hair is changing, thinning where it shouldn’t, and straightening on only one side. Weird.

    Covers do draw me. I like the dark side of suspense and thrillers. I loved The Bourne Trilogy covers because Matt Damon had such presence. I remember the first time I saw A Time To Kill. Didn’t know who John Grisham was, but I had to read the book. Same with Bleeding Heart, The Traveller, and First Deadly Sin.

    • Honestly? I don’t see any difference in the results but for years now I’ve used Pantene shampoo and conditioner for curls and like how it makes my hair feel. I imagine different hair types have different needs. Wouldn’t it be handy if one brand worked perfectly for everyone?

      I was drawn to your book by the combination of its cover and title. Getting to know you was what introduced me to it but I would have picked it up anyway if I’d encountered it first on a bookshelf. It’s my kind of cover. (The “hunk” ones turn me off, too.)

  4. joylene says:

    Forgot to mention if I see a hunk embracing a girl who’s half dressed, I avoid the book like the plague. Those one all end up in DH’s pile though.

  5. Jody Hedlund says:

    Wow! What a great lesson from a shampoo bottle. It just shows how important color, mood, and style are in attracting people! If it’s an author I already love, the cover doesn’t matter. But for a new author, cover definitely is the first draw. Oh that makes me so nervous, though! Because as you know, my cover is “out there.” I wish there was a way to gauge how many people will eventually pick it up based on the cover!

    • I think I left a comment on your blog about how appealing your new cover is. You needn’t be nervous; it’s lovely. My personal preference is for landscapes uncluttered by people because I like to see the setting for a story first and build a mental image of the characters as I read. However, as I mentioned to Janna above, soft colours, muted pictures, and simplicity of design appeal to me and your cover still fits that criteria very nicely. It will likely draw a larger audience than my more limiting ideas, too.

  6. Tricia says:

    If I’m not looking for anything specific, I always judge a book by its cover. Of course I won’t pay full price without reading the blurb. But on library book sales, where thousands are on the tables for a dollar, I’ll buy tons just because their spines are a certain color scheme.

    Also, when it comes to thriller, I’m attracted to a spooky house on the cover.

    • I’m more lenient in my choices when I’m collecting handfuls at a book sale, too, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book because of the colour of its spine. You’re not alone, though. I suspect that’s what some interior decorators do since I’ve noticed exceptionally well coordinated displays featured in home decorating magazines. 😉

  7. Paul Greci says:

    I tend to pay more attention to the title than the cover at least at a conscious level. I’m sure the cover has a lot to do with me picking up the book in the first place, unless it is shelved with only the spine showing.

    • I always assume both the cover and title reflect something of the story so I’m attracted first by the cover but then look to see if the title is promising before I turn to the blurb. I think I’m also influenced by the style of text used for the title, and how the title is woven into the over all cover design. But then that may be the artist in me more than the writer/reader.

  8. I avoid books that have covers with people on them. I like to imagine what the characters look like based on what I read inside. Also, sometimes the descriptions don’t match the picture on the front, and it really bothers me if I see a discrepancy. I also skip over any book showing violence or too much skin on the cover.

    Other than that, I like covers with blue, red, or black colors rather than pastels. Abstract patterns catch my eye and make me think the book might be interesting.

    • I usually prefer covers without people, too, and for the same reason, but since I like to read mysteries I can’t always avoid some indications of violence on their covers. Mind you, anything too graphic turns me off. I like what someone said on Rachelle Gardner’s blog,” There is a point in our portrayal of sin that we are not talking about sin and against sin, but we are participating in the sin.” I think that’s true with the written content and the cover.

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