As I was reading this article about book blurbs, I was reminded of a book I saw recently in a store. Lately I’ve been trying to pay more attention to books written by Portuguese authors, but I’m invariably put off by the subject matters, covers, blurbs or flap copies (this being the text on the back part of the book cover). It’s a pity, and I realize this might sound a bit superficial, but… If people in the publishing business don’t care about the book enough to make a decent job of presenting it, then why should I care enough about it to buy it?
The particular book (which I’m not going to single out here) that prompted this discussion was one of a supposedly highly recommended author, whose flap copy sounded like it was written by someone who never looked at a book in his / her life. It was the most boring, utterly pointless piece of writing I had ever read. It managed to take what might have been an interesting story to a list of unrecognizable names and events, and even gave out the ending. Why, oh why would you do this to any book? How about looking at other similar, successful books out there and realize what made their descriptions attractive to those who bought them? You’d think people who have been in the business long enough (this was the author’s 4th book with the same publishing house) would put a little more effort into it. Unfortunately, all it did was make sure that I wouldn’t take a chance on the book (and the cover didn’t help, either).
Blurbs can be almost as bad. One or two can be beneficial, but when the cover is filled to the brim with praise from a myriad of sources I don’t particularly care about, it starts to get a bit annoying. That, and when the author / book gets compared to better-known authors / books that have anything to do with one another (for example, I don’t know, saying you’re a mix of Tolkien, Orwell and Salman Rushdie, or something like that) just screams bullshit marketing. Most readers I know aren’t stupid. Then again, I don’t know that many readers, so my sample might be skewed.
Bad covers are also an issue that baffles me, but I will leave that for another time, another post.