How important is the cover art of a book?

This question was posed recently  in my Authors’ group. I found the responses very interesting. For these writers and readers, a cover was an important draw.

And according to this wonderful quote from http://www.slushpile.net/index.php/2005/12/20/the-importance-of-cover-art/

According to a Times Online article, the story you slaved over for years, and then waited two years for it to be published and hit the shelves, has about the same time it takes to sneeze once or twice to make an impression. The article, You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover, points out that “Studies show that a book on a three-for-two table has about one and a half seconds to catch a reader’s eye. If it is picked up, it is on average glanced at for only three to four seconds. ”

I found myself thinking about this in depth. Was the cover of a book that important to me? Was I really one of the visually fickle of today?

I wanted to test this. So, standing in front of the multitude of book at a local book store, I glanced up and down the rows and tables. I was pleased when I found I could pass by the cover art if the title jumped out and grabbed me. I looked again. When this happened, it was generally if there wasn’t much cover art to be had. To my visual eye, the title was then the cover art. Sigh… I guess it still boils down to the visual grabbing me first.

So, yes…I actually did fall into that fickle visual majority. If I see something appealing, I give it a second look. At second glance, I’ll read the title and if I like that, I’ll move onto the blurb. Sometimes I’ll move into the first page, but most times, if I’m intrigued enough by the blurb, I expect the rest of the book to do the same.

I tested my visual preference choice on the cover art of Lane Smith's, It's A Book. What grabbled me first? I admit, for me, the title jumped out. Why? Because the title is a big part of the artwork. It's big and bold and coupled with the darling monkey character makes a friendly gesture for me to get pulled in. Turning it over I was sold. Not only are the characters terrific, but using the techy slangs in comparison with the written word make me smile and shake my head, remembering the not-so-long-ago days before computers, cell phones and I-pads. (Oh, oh, I feel my age showing.)

So, how about you? Do you judge a book by its cover?

Happy writing and Happy Reading!

C.K. Volnek