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11 May 2011

So What About the Back Cover?

Join us in June as we premier COTT's book club! Karen Witemeyer and her COTT winning novel, A Tailor-Made Bride is up as our first read (The books is offered as a free e-book here; if you don't have a Kindle, you can download the program to your pc or mobile device free here). More details and to vote for July's book, CLICK HERE 

Read this week's excerpts here and vote!
What's the Big Deal About the Back of the Book?

I hid behind a copy of the NYTimes at the local bookstore, my trench coat belt pulled tight and my fedora at a swanky angle. Totally incognito, I was on the case. My assignment? To discover once and for all the answers to an author's most persistent questions: Do readers really care about the back of the book? Would they buy based on a catchy blurb or teasing headline or a really cool picture of the author?

I thought back to my own published books which I'd flipped over and compared that morning. Were they exciting enough that someone would buy them? One had an endorsement by an editor; one had my picture and bio – scary. They all had a pretty enticing one-line teaser. One had the illustration continued from the front; one had the picture I originally wanted on the front; others had none.

A half-hour at the book store was all I needed to see for myself. The evidence was in. Serious readers turn the book over—or, open and read the fly. People that are on a mission to buy gifts for someone else grab and pay. Perusers even read a few pages. One guy read the last few pages. Persnickety readers might actually put the book down after reading the back. Even on the discount table. That's how important the back cover copy is: The blurb can make or break a sale.

My informal poll to the ACFW book club group resulted in the following:
Do you look at the back cover first or second? Only one person (an author, go figure) looked at it first; most said they looked at it after checking out the front; three said they don't usually look at the back cover; two said they rarely look at all.

What do you like to see on a back cover? Accurate, enticing teasers without giving too much away, one person said reviews and a couple people said endorsements; one person said something about the author.

Did you ever buy a book because of the back cover? Most said yes, the back cover blurb has sold the book.

I had to include all these responses; they were too good to pass up or condense. Enjoy!


I always read the back cover copy and if it interests me, then I look at the first few pages before I buy the book. The "blurb" is very important with books ordered on-line as that is all we have to go on. I've skipped a few because what I read didn't click with me. With authors I know well, I usually don't look, and only once or twice have been disappointed when the book didn't live up to what I expected.
~Blessings, Martha Rogers

The FRONT cover is the main thing I look at. Frankly I hardly ever read the back of a book. They really don't tell you exactly what is in the book. If the front cover grabs my attention. I read the FIRST page of the book. If the author had grabbed my attention in the first page. I'm going to be interested in the rest of the book not matter what it's about. So, no the back of a book has never convinced me to buy a book. The few times I've read the back first and then checked out the first page of the book. I wasn't grabbed by the first page and put the book back on the shelf!  
I know I might be an odd duck not to read book blurbs on the back of books but they have let me down so many times! Or made it more confusing than helped. Oh, I forgot one more thing that I check about a book are the DISCUSSION QUESTIONS!! Since I try to mostly read books I think will be a fit for book club discussions. I check out the discussion questions. This tells me one, the heart of the author and what they think is important and some of the topics that will be discussed in the book.
~Blessings, Nora :D

1) look at the front cover first (enjoy looking at beautiful covers—it's what draws me to a book first. If the publisher cares about presentation, they'll care about the story--usually)
2) Then the back cover. I found the back cover on Laura Frantz's Courting Morrow Little to be lovely!
3) I read the blurb; and that usually will convince me "aye or nay" to purchasing the book.
~Pat Iacuzzi

I usually look at the type in the book.....I know, it is weird, but often the font in the book convinces me if I want to read or not read a book. I usually read the back cover of a book after I read the first chapter and am wondering where the story is going. I read a back cover one time that basically told the whole story in short form (It was a book from the 1940s) it ruined the book. Yes, often the back cover has convinced me to buy the book. I do not want too little info on there, and I do not want too much.
~Martha Artyomenko

I look at the back of the book right after the cover. I like to see a synopsis on the back and do pay attention to endorsements and what they say, especially so if they are from other authors I know and respect. Without question, the blurbs have a lot to do with whether I buy the book. 
~Pat Rowland

I look at the back cover immediately after I look at the cover. Both are important to me.
I like the back cover to give me a blurb that leaves me wondering what I’m going to see inside.
And YES, the blurb makes a lot of difference whether I will read the story. Sometimes after I purchase my books, and then re-read the blurbs, that also determines to me which book I will read first.
~Shirley Kiger Connolly

Yes, I look at a back cover first. I want to see a catchy header that reels me in.
Yes, a jacket blurb has convinced me to buy the book.
~Hugs, Julie Lessman

Second, I look at the cover first.
What do you want to see on the back cover? Enough about the story to pique my interest, but no spoilers. Has the blurb ever convinced you to buy the book? Yes.
~Lena Nelson Dooley

I don't always read back covers. I used to and I found out that too much of the story was given away sometimes that ruined the story for me. I go more on author, book cover and recommendations.
~Wendy Marple

I look at the front cover first (only briefly), but the most important part for me is the flyleaf description of the book and author info, then go to back cover for review excerpts and to see if they are from top tier publications. This pertains to a hardback. In paperbacks, the info is more important than cover art as I base purchase decisions upon how interestingly the book is described of the, reviews, and if something about the author interests me.
~Debbie Roth

I usually read the back cover before buying. I want enough info so I have an idea about the book without any spoilers - basically a good teaser. It is also important that it be accurate. I have actually read books that have incorrect or misleading back covers. As bad as a front cover with a hero or heroine who looks nothing like their description.
~Pamela Morrisson

I look at front cover first but then right away I look at back cover. The blurb is very important to me and has often caused me to buy a book.
~Kim Thorne

I will often look at the front cover then I read the back cover and yes I have bought books because of the blurb. I like a brief enticement of the book content without it giving away any surprises that I like to find myself. I do like seeing the photo of the author and a little info of the author also. Also when I am in the city I will often look for books like the LI ranges and ones that have a good title as they are often displayed like in a library with just seeing the title showing I will then look at the front but go to the blurb on the back to decide which books I will buy.  The blurb is what sells the book to me if I don't know the author. A good cover helps but if the blurb doesn't make it sound good a good cover isn't enough for me. I recently reviewed a book which the cover didn't really impress me but the blurb left me wanting to know what would happen and I loved the book. In Australia the covers are often not as impressive as in America so the blurb is what is best relied on. At Christmas I met an Author at the local bookshop where I was working and I went and bought one of her books I had a choice of about 4 and the back blurb sold the one I bought. I hope I didn't confuse you too much.
~Jenny aka Ausjenny

If a reader goes into a book store, and they are unfamiliar with the author, the blurb, cover and description are of paramount importance. That is all they have to go on. I am always baffled when the cover art doesn't have anything to do with the contents of the book. If the book is about a brunette and her son and the cover art is of a blonde and her daughter, then the publishing company looks ridiculous. Yet, I see this all the time. I wish someone could explain this breakdown to me. Let's say a house is for sale. You walk up to the front door of the house. However, you don't look at the door too long. You quickly peek in the windows to see what the actual house is like. The front door is like the cover of the book -- the doorway to what is truly important. You peek in the widows to get a fuller picture. The back cover is that window.
~Richard Mansel

I do look at the front cover of a book to see if it speaks to me. It usually does not determine to buy it. I always read the back blurb to know what the basics of the book are. That's what determines my ultimate purchase. Being an author I know helps, but reviews help sell the book as well. I read what others thought of the book before I buy. 

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Item Reviewed: So What About the Back Cover? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lisa Lickel