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.?
For instance, Star Wars books. The book cover doesn’t matter at all. Since I no longer buy hardcovers, the story itself and the reviews determine if I’ll buy the book in paperback, especially the stand-alone novels.
With romances, it’s a bit trickier. One of the reasons I like the reviews on All About Romance is the fact that they do not show the book cover. It allows the reader to form an opinion about the book based on the words alone, without a visual to color their perception. Some covers and book blurbs are misleading, so reviews carry more weight with me. Perfect example — Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady. I’ve read many reviews where the reviewer admitted to by-passing this book the first time because of the cover. Oh, I like him well enough; he’s very good-looking. But it conveys the wrong message. What would have worked: fully clothed and arms crossed, with the same expression on his face, and a “man on a mission” attitude. Would I have picked this book up with a cover closer to what I suggested? Maybe. But more likely than not, I’d just jolt down the author’s name and look for reviews.
Once I’m familiar with the author, picking up the next book is easier, regardless of the cover. Thankfully, I’m familiar with the Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ work because my mother loves her. If not, I don’t think I would have picked up It Had to Be You, based on the cover of the reissue (close-up of a woman’s bra-clad breasts? What were they thinking??) Fortunately, my mother’s copy (which I have in my TBR) is an older copy with a nice sailboat and cityscape on the front.
I love the jewel-toned covers of the Silhouette Nocturne line. It’s pretty much a guaranteed thing that I will read the blurb, at least, and maybe the excerpt.
As for other genres, if an interesting cover catches my eye, I will try to find out more about the book. But even that’s flexible: Magic Bites was bought based on the first page or two, the blurb, and the cover.