Reading is one of my favorite past times but purchasing actual books is an expensive hobby. I have to be selective on what books I get physical copies of. Whenever possible I try the library, 2nd handbook stores, ebooks for 99¢, etc. Can’t be having my book spending cost more than my utility bill, no matter how much I’d like to.
But sometimes you want to splurge on a brand new book. You want to feel an embossed hardcover or flip one of those extra floppy paperbacks between your fingers. Some covers are so beautiful you want to admire them on your shelf and some stories are so beloved you want to feel them in your hands for the rest of time.
Money’s tight though and you have to be selective of what books you decide to purchase. And when you do, it can be a big letdown seeing publishers going for some of the most commercial marketing trends that rather ruin the book, in my opinion.
1. Replacing the original cover with the TV/Movie image
Most bookworms would agree with this one. If you wanted a movie poster you’d buy one so you definitely don’t want it on your book. We all know the book is usually better than the movie anyway so why do this?
Marketing. When a book becomes a film, the majority of people will associate it with the movie. Everything you see on a book cover is used to market and sell and films sell a lot easier than books to a mass market.
Also, the unremovable stickers that go along with these covers are annoying as well. “Now a major motion picture” or “ Now a Netflix Original Series”. Stop double dipping in your marketing and give me a better cover.
2. Rough cut/Deckled Edges looks sloppy and unprofessional
If you don’t know, this is when the edges of the book are uneven and don’t line up together. Back in the day, when books were bound this couldn’t be avoided. They didn’t have the precise technology we have nowadays to get the pages to line up properly. So, for older books, this makes sense and adds to their charm.
For modern books, these edges don’t fit the actual book. The cover will be bright and gorgeous but then the side of the book looks like someone dragged it along a concrete sidewalk. It makes fanning the pages to get that book smell in your face a disappointing chore.
If you’re spending $18 or more on a book you don’t want it to look like the pages were individually ripped and rebound by a child.
3. Book covers that don’t cover the actual book
This is a trend I’ve noticed with a lot of popular books and I absolutely despise it. The whole point of the cover is to actually cover the book, the entire book. The name says it all: “cover”. How are they screwing this up? When you spend hard-earned money on a book you want the cover to do its actual job.
I can’t really figure out why publishers do this either. The one book I own with this awful type of cover is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (good book, by the way) and I tried really hard to find a copy with a normal cover. All this weird cover does is make the 2nd page of the book more accessible because it’s partially exposed beneath the cover.
Do you know what’s on that easy to flip to 2nd page? Praise quotes from magazines I don’t read. Honestly, who cares what the Associated Press says about a fictional book anyways?
These inferior little book covers serve no purpose and look more like a mistake than a professional marketing technique.
4. Poorly written, confusing, or plain bad synopses/summaries
If a book cover has managed to grab your attention chances are you’ll flip to the back to skim the synopsis. In just a few sentences the synopsis has to summarize the book in simple terms, hit the right genre, and intrigue you with a question that you’ll have to read the book to solve.
If the book blurb can’t cover most of these points, you aren’t going to it. The worst offenders I’ve seen lately have been in Fantasy and Young Adult. They try to fit a whole prologue on the back of the book. Instead of selling you the story in short easy to skim sentences, they try telling the whole back story in two convoluted paragraphs.
You need a gist of what the book is about so you have a vague understanding of what to expect. If the book blurb isn’t captivating or is confusing you, you aren’t going to chance the entire book being any better.
5. Marketing books in the wrong genre
This one doesn’t usually stop readers from buying books initially but after you’ve been burned once, you get stingier in your selections. I’ve noticed this growing problem in recent books. Publishers will market books in genres that they really don’t belong in, in order to boost sales.
Some books are difficult to categorize but most will fall into a broad definition of one of the major genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Romance, Young Adult, etc. If a book doesn’t fit comfortably into one of these categories, publishers need to find a sub-genre for it and market it accordingly. There’s an audience for almost any book, find it and sell it to them.
Nothing is more irritating when you buy a book from your preferred genre only to realize afterward it’s something else entirely. Books not only cost a pretty penny these days but they are time-consuming. You don’t want to waste your time or money on something you’re not interested in to begin with.
6. “This book is the next (insert famous book series)!”
Then why was it written? Honestly, do you really want to read another Game of Thrones or any other famous book? No, you don’t. You’ve read those stories, fell in love with them, and now you’re ready to move on to new worlds and adventures.
There’s a reason those books are famous. Most people like them and enjoy them because they were different and well written. So, why do publishers try to push the same old stories on us? I realize this is again, a marketing decision but it’s one that can turn readers off because they’re looking for something different to devour and instead are being served leftovers.
I might be nitpicking here, and these are subjective but everyone has an opinion on what they are willing to spend their money on. For the average person, books ain’t cheap. And when you do decide to buy one or many, you want them to measure up to the cost you end up paying.
2 thoughts on “6 Publishing Trends that Stop Readers From Buying Books”
This post as been very helpful. I recently self-published a novel, The Cross We Bear on Amazon, and at first I thought paperback format would do. But people kept asking if they could get it in e-book format, so I decided to make that available as well. Picking the genre was also, in my case, a little difficult because people might think it is a romance in the beginning, but after 100 pages or so it becomes more of a coming-of-age drama. I know some people really love romance and some really don’t like it at all, so it was a bit of a dilemma. I settled for literary fiction. I also designed the cover myself and hope it is intriguing (so far positive feedback). There was another image I would have used but I wanted to avoid the cost the museum asked for. Anyway I want to donate the proceeds from the sales to cancer research. If or when I publish another book, I will certainly keep your post for reference. Thank-you
Agree with all of these! If only the publishing companies would listen to us 😪