Yes, we all know the old adage - "you can't judge a book by its cover". Well, I beg to differ. Okay, maybe not JUDGE a book, but definitely be DRAWN to it.
I am a huge cozy mystery fan. Something about the genre speaks to me. Going back to my childhood days of Nancy Drew...(there was just something about that girl!). The covers were fabulous! Intriguing. Mysterious. - Nancy climbing a dark staircase with only a candlestick to light her way, or heading into a dark cave with her flashlight. When you start reading, you have a picture in your head as to what the scene really looks like.Now that I'm all grown up, I still pick a book by what I see on the cover.
I am also a big fan of historical fiction of a certain era. Turn-of-the-century. 1900. When I see a cover with someone dressed in the costume of that day, or with a horse-drawn carriage and a country manor in the background, you can bet I am picking up that book. Ladies in long skirts, gentlemen in top hats - it's going on my TBR shelf.
But let's get back to the cozy. I have soooo many (maybe too many? Nah!) cozy mysteries I can't even keep count anymore. Many of them yet to be read. And I will be honest - many of them were chosen because of the way the cover spoke to me; called to me, if you will.
Most cozies these days have a theme to them. Cooking, hobbies, crafts, pets, shopping, bed & breakfasts... the list goes on. Most covers I've come across do a great job of relaying the theme of the series. But every once in awhile, a cover totally does not match the feeling that I perceive the author is trying to get across.
Lorna Barrett, author of the Booktown mystery series, just conveyed a problem she had with the cover of her latest novel,
Bookplate Special. She tells about it over at the Cozy Chicks blog. Apparently, the cover that was chosen for the large print edition of the book was totally not what Ms. Barrett had in mind. Long story short, the cover was changed and now looks like a typical cozy mystery cover. (I like the new one better.)
Cozy covers are usually cute and (I hate this word) whimsical, with almost a cartoonish feel to them. I love them! Sometimes, midway through the series, the covers get changed to more graphic, photographed artwork and I hate when that happens! Because now I already have a picture in my head of what the story should look like. And the new cover sometimes doesn't match the feel of the book. Just picture the word - COZY. And yes, even though a dead body inevitably shows up in a cozy, it's usually kind of abstract and "off-screen". The image is not something out of CSI, with blood and guts all over the place, but more along the lines of Murder, She Wrote (one of my favorite tv shows and book series). Small town, friendly people, and somebody just happens to be dead.
That is why many (not all) people choose to read the cozy. Because so much of the action happens "off-screen", it kind of leaves a little to the imagination. Maybe that's why I take the cover into so much consideration. After all, reading a book uses so much of one's imagination. And if mine is sparked just by looking at the cover, without even opening the book, I guess I feel that the book might just be worth my while.
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