While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?
I despise most modern book covers. But since I do read books with recent publication dates, it means that the cover has no bearing on my enjoyment of a story.
I have no preferences for hardcover/softcover/trade/mass market on an enjoyment level although this definitely factors in on the financial aspect. Fonts and illustrations, however, are a different story. These things don’t affect how I read a story–once I start it, that is. But it does affect the probability that I will pick it up in the first place. It’s probably due to some social conditioning I have yet to scrub out. Let’s see, if I encounter these random covers in the bookstore:
Bland classical landscapes or portraits – Maybe, if I’ve heard of the author
Garish horror imagery – Unless it’s Lovecraft, no
Knives/people running/other thriller and suspense designs – Probably not
Cutesy mysteries – NO
Cinch covers and man-titty – Only when I’ve read favorable reviews
Flowers – No
Women in skin tight clothing – NO
Space ships – Maybe
Guys with swords – Um, probably not
Girly fantasy illustrations/cats – Unless I’ve read a really favorable review, no
Cartoons – Quite possibly, especially if it’s really terrible
Plain solid colors – Too easy to overlook
So what kind of cover design do I like? As much as it pains me to say, I like the cover to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The story isn’t great and the typeface is blah, but the ripped crop of the Mona Lisa is kind of edgy. The various covers of Baudolino by Umberto Eco are pretty cool. Although I haven’t read this book, I liked the Jody Lee cover to Mercedes Lackey’s The Black Swan enough that I once had it as wallpaper on my computer. And I particularly like Thomas Canty’s covers (some scans here). There were also a series of abstract British science fiction covers (here) which were really awesome. Charles Stross also has some neat covers. In short, I prefer covers with a distinctive style yet are not cliche.
Addendum: On the interior stuff–I’m pretty neutral about the typefaces of the story. I’m usually amused by any illustrations within the text and plates found in non-fiction works are always informative. But when the words are in any other color than black (especially if it’s red), it becomes a pain.
Onesome: Something old- Do you have anything that you’ve owned simply forever? A cherished childhood toy, an antique handed down through the family? …the family Bible?
I don’t remember whether it was my uncle, a great-uncle, or some cousin twice removed who gave it to me, but it’s a stuffed raccoon with a music box inside.
Twosome: Something new- Buy anything new lately?
Does yogurt count?
Threesome: Something borrowed- Have you ever borrowed an item and never returned it?
Not that I recall.
Bonus: Something blue- Can you see anything blue from where you are? What is it?
Your website. If not counting anything on the computer, then it’s a folder on my desk.