A book by its cover

March 14, 2008
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On my long to-do list for this weekend is to dig into Barbara Shoup’s upcoming young adult novel “Everything You Want” (set for release in April from Flux books).

Shoup is an Indiana writer with a stack of acclaimed books to her credit, but this is my first time reading her. And I’ll admit without shame that one of the reasons I’m taking a leap with this one is that it has a great cover.

I know, of course, that the words came long before the cover design was decided. However, as a lifelong reader, I accept the reality that I’m less likely to read a book with a lousy jacket than I am to read—or purchase—a book with a good one. So am I judging a book by its cover? In part, of course I am. I bet you do, too.

Your thoughts?
  • Covers do make a difference. People look at other people and make snap decisions, too. Maybe they shouldn't, but they do. That's just life. Thank goodness we are not all drawn to the same package.

    In fact, predicting what will make a book cover appealing is very difficult. I was standing in front of the Young Adult New Books area of my public library one day, chatting with a high school student. I asked her which were the best covers. I.e. - which covers most made her want to read the books. I can't remember which books she picked out, but I remember I was flabbergasted by her choices. With this as with everything associated with teens, it is important not to make assumptions.

    However, I do think the cover of the new Shoup book is good: no teen is going to be ashamed to be seen carrying it around. It is intriguing and funny without being silly or dumb. Personally, too, I like the colors and the fact that there are no close-ups of teen body parts. It sells without exploiting anybody. (Except maybe geese - hah! - but I can't worry about EVERYTHING, can I.)

    But even if the cover did make me think, Oh, dear, I would still want to read the book. I team-taught a graduate-level young adult literature seminar a few summers ago (and yes, I am bragging: that was such a fun and satisfying experience! I wish I had time to do it every summer!)...and Shoup agreed to be one of our guest speakers. We all enjoyed talking with her about her books, of course, and the work that she does with teen writers and readers through The Writers' Center of Indiana (www.indianawriters.org) and other venues, but I was also intrigued by what she shared of her writing process:

    For each of her novels, she keeps a sort of scrapbook. Not just a writing journal, but a journal that is literally bulging with maps and drawings and notes on napkins and so on. A work of collage art all on its own, separate from the final piece of art that is her novel.

    I hadn't heard that she had a new YA novel coming out. Thanks for the heads-up, Lou.
  • PS - The title is interesting, too: Everything You Want. I wonder if that was the author's original working title or something her publisher suggested, or...

    By the way, I like to hear author's title stories almost as much as I like to hear couples' how we met stories. Got any good ones, Lou?
  • Well, pick your edit:

    By the way, I like to hear AN author's title stories....


    By the way, I like to hear authors' title stories...


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