What do you do when you’re browsing in a traditional bookstore for your next great read? Probably check out front covers, and if one snags your interest, flip to the back cover blurb.
You doubtlessly already know what I mean by that, but just in case you call it by a different name, here’s this week’s Definition:
Back Cover Blurb
Book jacket blurb. Back cover blurb. Back cover copy. Admittedly, you might know this creation by many names, but it’s very simply defined.
This is the information on a book’s backside or perhaps just inside the jacket cover that describes what it’s about.
The front cover (complete with title, image and author’s name) is what gets potential readers’ interest to begin with. But it’s the back cover blurb that makes them open it to read the first page.
Actually, I should probably amend that last statement to, “But it’s the back cover blurb that makes them open it to read the first page – or put it right back down on the shelf.”
If you’re as much of a bookworm as you are a writer, then you’re very familiar with the book-browsing process.
You’re walking down a bookstore aisle, leisurely turning your head from one side to the other to see if anything catches your fancy. When bam! One particular front cover (complete with title, image and author’s name) jumps out at you.
It looks good. It looks really good!
Picking it up, you immediately flip it over to read something like this:
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and it will become busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.
That’s the back cover blurb to Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, minus a paragraph about the author himself.
So what do you think? Intrigued enough to open it up?
I know I was. And then I was even more intrigued when I read the first page. So much so that The Book Thief now rests on one of my bookshelves to hold a special place in my larger library as one of my most appreciated reads of 2016.
Yet there are certainly back cover blurbs (or book jacket blurbs or back cover copy) that haven’t grabbed me enough to open up the actual novel or non-fiction work. For that matter, there have been far more that didn’t intrigue me than have.
There are multiple reasons for this. And we'll start discussing those back cover copy concerns in Thursday's Writing Challenge.