Covers, Stories, Teasers, Stars, Grades

What makes a book appealing to you? For that matter, what makes a book appealing to anyone? For her February 3 TGIF feature, GReads asked the question “When you’re browsing Goodreads, the library, or a blogger’s reviews, what grabs your attention to make you want to read it?”

For this blog, that’s a two-part question.

  1. What makes a book appealing to me?
  2. What makes a book ‘feature-worthy’ for the weekly Ebook Review Central?

If books were food, I would be making the old joke about being on the “seafood diet”. The joke was that I “see food and I eat it”. In the case of books, I see books and I want to read them. Not all books, but too awfully darn many.

We all judge books by their covers, but I use it to judge what category the book might be. I see gears and I think “steampunk, cool”, and that goes into the “maybe, yes” column. I see a man in a kilt and think “Highland Scots romance, probably not”.  I have, I will again, but unless they are either paranormal or time travel or something otherwise supernatural, except for Diana Gabaldon, I may be done there for a while.

Spaceships or computer chips means cyberpunk, space opera or science fiction romance; again, count me in. But cover art only suggests, it doesn’t guarantee.

I also go for authors I know or whose series I have started. I don’t read a lot of mysteries per se, but I read a lot of mystery series where I’m neck deep in the series, and I’m invested. Or is that committed?

I also like stories where the author has tried something new, so if the reviewer says they didn’t just love the story, but also that there is something new and interesting going on, I might try the book. Particularly if I trust the reviewer. There are some reviewers whose “mehs” mean more than other reviewers’ 5 star ratings. Everyone has their own style.

But when it comes to Ebook Review Central, I use an entirely different criteria for determining which books get featured. Every Monday ERC features up to three books from the publishing output for the publisher(s) and the month in question. On January 30, the publisher of the week was Samhain Publishing, the month was December 2011. On February 3, the last December 2011 issue will feature Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books and Riptide Publishing.

I do look for books where there were a lot of reviews. If a title gets 15 or more reviews, that’s one I’ll definitely feature. At that point, they don’t even all have to be good reviews, although it helps. If something is worth talking about that much, then it’s a title that other readers might want to take a look at. In romance, after all, love and hate are often opposite sides of the same coin.

I also look for the tone of the reviews. When the reviewers are doing more than just giving a story five stars and A+ ratings, when the collective reviewing landscaping is searching for words beyond “everyone must read this NOW!” that’s a sign the book is worth showcasing.

When it comes to the Ebook Review Central, it really doesn’t have anything to do with my reading tastes. I might have read some of the books listed for the week, and I might not. And even if I did, I might not have agreed with the other reviewers. The books that get featured depend on the collective blogosphere.

Of course, sometimes I’ll see how much other reviewers loved a certain book, and I’ll be intrigued. There are also times when I’ll see that no one is reviewing a particular author’s books, and I’ll wonder why no one cared enough about the book to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Which leads back to that question again.  What makes a book appealing to you?

2 thoughts on “Covers, Stories, Teasers, Stars, Grades

  1. I like what you’re saying here. “But cover art only suggests, it doesn’t guarantee.” — definitely. I’ve had that problem sometimes when I’m recommending a book to someone in the library — if it has ugly cover art, it just doesn’t always get attention. And sometimes, it can have great cover art, but just not be that great of a book.

    And I agree with what you said about how different reviewers review — I read a few blogs where it seems my reading is a lot in sync with that blogger, so if they give something a good review, I know I’m probably going to like it.

    1. Looks can be deceiving, can’t they? Or, handsome is as handsome does, in romance terms. The classic fantasy version would be “all that is gold does not glitter”. Tolkien was right.

      In libraries we know that books with covers circulate and books that have lost their covers don’t. No cover at all leaves everyone guessing a little too much.

      Reviewers each have their own tastes. We’re human. I try to only pick books to review I think I’ll like, based on the blurb and cover art. But I’m guessing. If the blurb and cover art doesn’t match the actual book, well, then, I’m disappointed, and that shows in the review.

      Another reviewer will feel differently. As always, the mileage varies.

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