Just as my perception of another person’s beauty can change once I get to know them, my appreciation for cover art often changes after I’ve read the book. The covers of books that are a mismatch for my personality look uglier, while those that are a better fit look prettier.
With Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (2011), for example, it was “love at first sight.” I thought Helen Musselwhite’s whimsical paper-art illustration was stunning. As I’ve said before (in Cover Art: What Does it Say about the Book?), the cover design is one of several factors I weigh when making my purchasing decisions. In this case, The Night Circus’ cover art and its mostly positive reviews overcame its relatively steep ebook price (I prefer ebooks, even though in this case it is slightly more expensive than the paperback). I bought the book and read it eagerly … only to be disappointed. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Since posting my comments about the book (in Magic in Manhattan), I have come across a few more book blogger reviews (including this positive one, this positive one, and this mixed one). I’m always interested to hear differing opinions on books I have read, but it rarely sways me. Now, with my mind made up about The Night Circus, I just can’t look at the cover the way I did before. The dull story sapped the cover’s magic, rendering the art as stiff as the characters in the novel.
In terms of sales figures, it doesn’t matter what I think of the cover art now that I’ve purchased the book. The ebook is mine to keep, for better or for worse. I can’t quite bring myself to delete it.
For those interested in cover art, here are two links: