Yard sales often offer books for sale. This week at a community yard sale, one little paperback diet book had everyone laughing, and also had several people wanting to buy it just for the novelty of the title: NEVER EAT MORE THAN YOU CAN LIFT.
The two book covers pictured above are also interesting. If you just read the title of Eleanor Burms’ book—STILL STRIPPING AFTER 25 YEARS—your first thought might not be that the book is about knitting and crocheting with strips of fabric. And the cover of Dave Tougner’s book, THE MANLY ART OF KNITTING, speaks for itself. Both books would at least make you look twice.
In a competitive book-selling market, stunning or clever book covers and compelling, surprising, humorous or outrageous titles might be just the nudge that makes someone buy a book rather than put it back on the shelf.
Judge Judy Sheindlin, of the popular court television program, gave her book this successful title: DON’T PEE ON MY LEG AND TELL ME IT’S RAINING: America’s Toughest Family Court Judge Speaks Out.
Many successful books have one-word titles: IT, JAWS, MIDDLESEX, DIVERGENT, FRANKENSTEIN, and DUNE are just a few examples. And some VERY LONG titles pretty much summarize the book’s content. Here are two of my favorites: Christina Tompson’s COME ON SHORE AND WE WILL KILL YOU AND EAT YOU ALL: A New Zealand Story, and David Rakoff’s DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE: THE INDIGNITIES OF COACH CLASS, THE TORMENTS OF LOW THREAD COUNT, THE NEVER-ENDING QUEST FOR ARTISANAL OLIVE OIL, AND OTHER FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.
I love libraries, book stores and yard sales that offer books. I also love surprising and interesting titles and book covers, but what really counts in the long run for me is the quality of the content between the covers. I love to get lost in good books.
Before the dementia, my mother loved the same things. She still likes to be read to, especially books of poems and prayers for children. But when I was growing up, she had shelves of good books, and two were her special favorites. Jessamyn West’s EXCEPT FOR ME AND THEE, companion book to THE FRIENDLY PERSUASION, and Helen Doss’ nonfiction book, THE FAMILY NOBODY WANTED. She bought spare copies of both books. That way she could always have her own copies, but still lend the books to others to enjoy, and tell them to pass the books on to others when they were finished.
Yes, you can sell a book by its cover. But it’s what’s between the covers that will make you cherish the book.