Monday, June 15, 2009

Judging Books (and Blogs) by Their Look

We're told to never judge a book by its cover, but I confess, I often do.  Not only the cover, really the overall aesthetic of a book.  I like to flip through the pages, look at the print, any notes, images, etc.  I confess that I am much more apt to actually purchase a book that is friendly and approachable than one that is cramped and uninviting.  I am wooed by fancy graphics and lovely fonts.  For this reason I love Amazon's ability to view pages for my online purchases.

There may be a difference here between non-fiction and fiction.  I think I'm pickier about the layout, font, etc of a non-fiction book than a novel.  As long as the print is easy to read, I'm usually good to go on a novel--although I do prefer some covers of classic literature to others.  (Don't get me started on movie-themed book covers).  But a "self-help", informative how-to, or some other informational book really needs to wow me a bit beyond just the printed content.  Am I alone?  Do you judge books by their overall appearance?  What's necessary for you to actually purchase a book.  

What about blogs?  As I've been spending time lately with the layout and image of my blog, I began to wonder.  How much does the look of a blog matter?  I know I'm much more apt to read blogs that are visually appealing, but then after that initial draw, I spend more than half of  my blog reading time on Google Reader, so I don't see the actual blog very often.  

Do you read most blogs by RSS or via the actual site?  Are some sites so lovely that you make it a point to visit them directly?  

What woos you more?  Text or visuals?  Is is different for online reading and print materials?


Heather said...

I'm so glad I came across your blog!
Yes, I am totally lured into books by their covers...and blogs as well (then again, I am a book designer!). And, I feel the same way about blogs. I tend to read them directly...not through an RSS feed, and I tend to overlook blogs that are messy and hard to read. I usually find if they are visually messy/random/etc, the content is too. There are a lot of nice, basic templates out there that can be used, so to create a messy one is just...messy!

WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

I do judge books on visuals. Walking through Borders, the pretty covers certainly stick out more. On the inside, I do care about font and spacing. I just bought some used books and I was a little hesitant because the writing inside was very tiny and cramped.
I read most of my blogs in Google Reader so I don't see them. Some of the ones that have great layouts I'll read on the actual page because I love the layout so much, or I'll click on the actual blog for layout ideas for my own blog. If I click on a blog for the first time and I don't like the layout, I'm much less likely to come back.

Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach said...

Personally, I'm someone who wants to see text AND images (I'm annoying like that). Obviously if I'm on a design blog I'll want to see more images, but otherwise I want to read! And while I do read most of my blogs on Google Reader, I always see them first - and that always sways me into staying longer/subscribing or getting the heck out of there :)

pinksundrops said...

I read all of my blogs via bloglines, except for the initial visit. My blog used to be pretty, until I got bored of it, now it's just a blank sheet waiting until I get inspired. I don't care so much about pretty, but that the blog layout fits the style of writing. If you're going to write about fashion, have a pretty blog, if you write quirky have a quirky blog, if you write randomly, then I don't care if your blog is random. Usually a blogs layouts won't turn me off completely, but it can be harder to get past to read those first few initial posts.

cindy said...

i used to go RSS, but now i like to go to the actual site. it's more telling of the blogger's personality and well, that's the reason why i chose to put them in my reader in the first place.

the look of a blog is important, but equally important to me is content. writing is also imperative. and i am always willing to overlook lack of visuals (which i recognize that not everyone is into) for stellar writing. that's how i feel about my books, too. :)

Carolyn said...

I'm so excited I finally ventured over to your blog for a bit. It has changed so much recently :). I love it!!

I have so much to say about this topic so I'll have to pop on over later when I get free time. But wanted to say hi :).

Carolyn said...

i TOTALLY judge books by their covers!! but i will often open it in the middle and read a bit, too. ;-)

as for blogs, i wish i were more savvy and could make my blog more personal and beautiful. sadly i don't even have adobe or any photoshop software! your header is beautiful tho :)

Caitlin said...

Thank you guys all so much for sharing!

Heather-so nice to see you!

McB-Have you settled on a design?

Carolyn-Yay! I'm so glad you stopped by! I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Carolyn- I have very minimal skills in the area of blog design, etc. E-mail me if you want to know about the person that helped me with my banner.