Friday, June 15, 2007

The joy of bookstore browsing

By Trish Milburn

I've been so busy lately that I've barely come up for air, but while my sister and nieces were visiting last week I got to indulge in a favorite pastime -- casually browsing bookstore shelves. Since I'm writing YA and just finished revising a paranormal YA, I gravitated to that section of the Barnes & Noble. And discovered there are an incredible number of very cool looking releases lining the shelves. It takes only moments to realize that paranormal is very hot in the young adult market now, and for that I'm glad. I love the combination of teen stories and paranormal elements. Thanks to Harry Potter, so do lots of readers 20 years younger than me.

The YA publishers are also very good at putting eye-catching covers on these books. Those covers were what made me pick the books off the shelves, turn them over and read the back-cover copy -- and make notes to myself to read these books soon. Here are some of the books that caught my eye:

Have you been browsing lately? What has caught your eye? And how important is a good cover in making you pick up a book?


Anonymous said...

Trish--these are definitely goregous covers! I can see why they caught your eye. I love to browse the shelves too...somehow I try to convince myself that it's part of the writing process. Hmmm... ;-)

Anyway, I've raved about Anna's cover before, which I absolutely adore. I'm not much for the clinch covers, but I like some of the more impressionistic romancey covers.

A cover won't get me to buy a book, but it will get me to pick it up, just like a good title gets you to grab it off the shelf and read the back cover. If I ever sell a book, I hope like he** that someone else comes up with a good title for me, because I'm absolutely hopeless at it!

Keira Soleore said...

I have bought books based solely on the cover. So I have to say, it's is very important to me. The color, art, design, composition, even the font makes a huge impact.

Kirsten, I love AnnaC's cover, too. She sure propriated the right cover gods and goddesses at her publisher's house, because she got a perfect cover.

Trish, the glory of browsing in a bookstore is the multi-sensory joy of it all--the colorful spines, the new book smells, the smoothness of glossy covers, the bumpiness of embossed type, the sound of crackling pages and hushed conversations...

Keira Soleore said...

BTW, Kirsten, I hope you meant to write "when I sell" rather than "if I ever sell". Grr.

Christine Wells said...

Wow! Those covers are amazing! Thank you for sharing them with us, Trish.

Actually, I'm very wary of judging a book by its cover. I have a large NTBR (never to be read) pile that seems to include a lot of books with gorgeous covers that I started and didn't finish for some reason. So these days, I make it a rule to read the first page before I buy. Like editors and agents, I usually know whether I'm going to like the story or not very early in the piece.

The value in beautiful or striking covers is that they might make me pick the book up and open it at page one.

Trish Milburn said...

Keira, great listing of the sensory joys of browsing bookstore shelves. So true! I don't think a cover has ever made me buy a book, but they definitely help me find potentially good reads on crowded bookshelves. I have this idea that if a publisher believed in a book enough to put a lot of artistic effort into the cover, then it's hopefully a very good read.

Anonymous said...

Aw, Keira, that's so sweet! You made my day.

Christine, do you ever feel a little guilty putting something in the NTBR pile? Especially now that I know more of the authors, I feel obliged to at least try to skim my way to the end. But there are only so many hours in the day, KWIM?

Joan said...

I went to Books A Million yesterday because I needed my "fix" of the intoxicating scents and visuals of a bookstore.

I CAN be lured to a book by it's cover but not always because of the art/picture. I'm increasingly finding myself drawn by the title.

I then read the blurb and if something in that resonates with me, I read a few pages and decide on purchase.

Then there are the loops and the contacts and the resources (RWR,RT) that I use to hear about debut authors or something new from an old favorite.

Kristen, you asked if Christine feels bad having a NTBR pile. I use to but not anymore. Don't get me wrong. It makes me very sad to begin a book (especially by an established author/a favorite) that just doesn't live up to its promises. It makes my brain hurt to force myself to read a bland or, yes, even a bad story.

Now, another thing about selecting your titles at the bookstore. Does it make a difference on placement on the shelves? One local Waldenbooks has placed their romance section clear along one wall, floor to ceiling. The ceiling part is the problem. I'm 5' 2" and can't SEE that far up. The wobbly little step stools they provided were of little help.

And the titles on the bottom shelf? REALLY have to strain to see them especially when most are displayed spine only out. (sigh) I know I've missed a lot of good stories this way.

Trish Milburn said...

I do think shelf placement affects sales, Joan. That's why I'm glad I have a last name smack in the middle of the alphabet so hopefully I'd be in the middle of the shelves somewhere.

jo lewis-robertson said...

I just finished reading a very interesting YA-vampire book that was clever and sweet and I would recommend to any teenager I know. Buffy notwithstanding, I don't often think of vampire books and teens in the same phrase because many vampire books have that combination of . . . well, bloodsucking and sex which might be inappropriate for adolescents.

This book, "Twilight," published in trade paperback by Little Brown in 2005 was a first book by novelist Stephanie Meyer. The sequel is "New Moon." I highly recommend it for teens and teens-at-heart.

Trish Milburn said...

Jo, I LOVE Twilight and New Moon and can't wait for Eclipse, which is being released in August. I think she does a fabulous job with characterization, setting, plot -- everything. And I want to visit Forks, Washington the next time I go out to visit my sister.

Anna Sugden said...

I rarely buy a book because of its cover ... though a good cover can entice me to pick up a writer I've never read. I like fun covers and ones which are different, which catch my eye.

And I love the bookstore experience. Ordering online is more convenient, but there's nothing like being there and handling the real thing. Luckily hubby is as addicted as I am.

As for NTBR's - there are so many good books to read (and I have so many waiting!) that I now don't stick with a bad book. I always used to slog through. But, why bother? I know I could miss out on slow starters - but to be honest - there's plenty that are great from page 1 to The End!