As readers, bloggers, bibliophiles, and book lovers, we all know the power of a (not so) beautiful cover – because, admittedly, we judge books by their covers. There’s no shame in that. Covers are partly marketing tools, so our general immediate feelings regarding an ugly or pretty cover are, essentially, productive feedback.
But I think there’s something we’re leaving out of this equation: Titles.
Titles are just as much marketing tools as covers, especially when no cover is present. This, of course, refers mostly to online book browsing/shopping, but could be applicable to outdated publications. Cover or no cover, I believe a title is important. This post over at The Guardian thinks so, too. (I enjoy the bit about there being a “‘samey title’ virus” and that each genre or age category has title trends.)
If you haven’t already noticed, YA novels tend to have short, sweet and simple titles. Heck, most are just one word. (Divergent, Delirium, Bumped, Rampant, Matched, Wither, Twilight, etc.) Going by one word alone, do you really have any idea what the book will be about? I’m betting no, and that’s all right, because we’re not supposed to. One-word titles are some of the best attention grabbers; they’re mysterious and draw you in. There’s a reason they choose a word like Twilight and not, say, Star (it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?).
At the same time, longer titles can be just as mysterious, but not necessarily as captivating upon first glance. In my own experience, longer YA titles often first elicit curiosity from me. For example, when I go through a recently published list of titles, these longer ones stand out to me, but don’t exactly get me too excited: 37 Things I Love (in no particular order), Flora’s Fury: How a Girl of Spirit and a Red Dog Confound Their Friends, Astound Their Enemies, and Learn the Importance of Packing Light, The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, etc. Do I know what these books are about because their titles are longer? No, and again, that’s all right. I have a bit more to go by though, and can make some educated guesses.
Even though longer titles don’t impact me as greatly as shorter titles, it doesn’t mean I rule them out. I just approach them both differently. It’s because of this that I think titles are just as important to evaluate as covers. Plus, you typically can’t have one without the other – they’re a package.
How do you feel about titles? Do you think covers are more important?
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