It’s an age old saying, and everyone understands the premise behind it.  But, it’s a proverb that’s rarely put into practice.  Particularly for those of us of the newer generations – Gen Y and onwards.
I’m a Gen Y – at the upper end of the age group, but Gen Y nevertheless.  And I’m going to talk today about how being a Gen Y influences the way I buy books, and why this is important to authors and publishers today.  Particularly those who write for the adult age group. 
This year, Gen Y’s will be aged between 18 and 34 years of age.  This means Gen Y’s are all now adults, and thus are taking up a significant share of the adult book purchasing population.  Which means attracting our attention is becoming increasingly important, or you’re going to miss out on a piece of the market.
Gen Y’s are the first of the NOW generation.  We have short attention spans.  If something doesn’t hold our interest or grab our attention fast, we move on very quickly.  Without remorse, I might add – and rarely inclined to look back.
This means, the most important thing to us about a book is its cover – it’s usually the first thing anyone sees of a book.  Without an eye catching cover, we’re going to glide right on by.  We’re not even going to pause to take a sniff.  The book might be the most amazing story on the face of the earth, but we’re not going to even read the blurb to discover that if we don’t find the cover appealing.
Superficial? Hmmmm … yes, maybe.  But you need to understand Gen Y’s have grown up with information overload.  We have so many choices available to us we can be that selective. 
Don’t get me wrong, Gen Y’s also expect substance.  We don’t want just a nice book cover – we expect a fabulous book too.   But we won’t discover that wonderful book unless the cover draws us in first.  Now, suppose a book draws our attention and we are enticed to buy it.  But within a few pages or chapters, we discover we don’t like it, chances are high that we won’t even finish the book.  And there’s an almost zero chance we’ll pick up a book by that author again.
I will tell you straight out that if I don’t like the cover, I’m not going to read the book.  And it’s not just me.  Jess is the same (sorry to dob you in, Jess!)  and my other friends are the same.  We’re all Gen Y-ers.  There are only a couple of specific conditions in which I might be persuaded to read a book with a less than appealing cover:
  • A highly trusted friend highly recommends the book. I’ll need an explanation though – I need to know what it is about this book that’s so unmissable that it’s worth me getting past the bad cover. And if I proceed on the recommendation, I will do so dubiously because, to me the book just don’t look that great.
  • I already know and love the author’s work. After that point, their cover pretty much becomes irrelevant to me.
It’s all about first impressions.  If you can get noticed and look attractive, then we’re more likely to read the book.  After that, if we have the added bonus of falling in love with the book, we’re doubly impressed.
Ok, so hopefully that deals with the why of Gen Y’s judgement by book cover.  And hopefully you don’t judge us too harshly on what at first looks like a shallow motive.  Then again, if you do – we aren’t really going to care.
What does a Gen Y look for? I can’t answer for all, as even Gen Y’s have individual tastes.  And what is appealing will of course vary depending on the genre.  For a start, I’ll show you some examples in my favourite genre – historical fiction.
It’s no secret I saw the cover of Laura Frantz’s “The Colonel’s Lady” and decided it was a book I had to read.  I’d never read anything by Laura before – in fact I’d never heard of her.  But the cover was enough for me to take a chance. I was so pleased my gamble paid off as in it I found one of my favourite books of all time.  And as a result of that, I will forever sing its praises!

I know that Tamera Alexander is a popular author, but I’d never considered reading her books before simply because I didn’t find the cover appealing.  That’s changed for me since the release of her latest book, “A Lasting Impression”.  Compare this cover with that of an older release, “Within My Heart”. Now I realise the setting for these books must be quite different, but “A Lasting Impression” is fresh and has a distint romantic feel to it.  I think the contrast between the white background and the blue dress is the main drawcard.

 Here are some other book covers we love:

“She Walks in Beauty” by Siri Mitchell  is Jess’ fav.  I agree, it’s a gorgeous cover.  But not only that – the title is to die for!

I love “The Director’s Cut” because it’s so striking. It looks sophisticated, and I just love that dash of hot pink on the dark background.
We live in a world of high definition – on our TVs, computers, phones etc … so we expect vibrancy, vividity and colour from our book covers as well.  For credibility, we expect covers to look professional with colour, glossy images and up-to-date design principles.  We can spot an outdated font a mile away and to us it just screams “has-been”.  Which means it’s probably important to freshen up book covers on new editions.

What are some book covers that you like?