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Precognitive Book Judging

Posted on 2009.01.20 at 09:00
Current Location: 75070
Current Music: Puscifer - V is for Vagina
Tags: , ,

Why do we adorn books with covers? And I'm talking above and beyond a plain dust jacket - why is there visual information outside of author and title on the cover of books? Is it to draw us in as consumers? As possible customers of that book? Providing new readers a glimpse into that books subject matter, or genre? Perhaps a stylistic outline of the book's content? Makes sense to me. Why then are we told to not judge them by those covers, when its apparent that's *exactly* what they're designed to do?

The answer of course is that we shouldn't judge the worth of something based on its appearance (a philosophical impossibility to be sure), and yet covers on books go out of their way to be judged in order to garner interest enough to be sold. Why are we then told not to judge it by its cover? I discussed this in my Marketing post:

The Last Castle is, to me, a drama. It's about people. It's the plot which tells the story. But on the back cover of the DVD, they show the three scenes in which there was 'action.' You see James Gandolfini holding a gun, Robert Redford ducking for cover with an exploding helicopter in the background, and one other explosion still. Not really indicative of the movie, mind you but if some casual passerby were to glance at it, they might think it was an action-packed movie, and that's just gay.

My wife rec'd Munich as a Mother's Day gift. She had expressed interest in seeing it. Why? Because the commercial spots linked the few 'action' shots back-to-back and made it look like a Robert Ludlum movie come to film. Boy was she disappointed. Screw those people trying to make a buck off a lie. I hope to hell that comes back and bites them in the ass - i.e. they would have sold more to those interested in a docu-drama than an action film, but didn't purchase it because of the crap they released as a trailer. "Piracy is STEALING" the new ad's on DVD's say. Guess what else is stealing? Misrepresenting a movie to get people to buy it!

When I bought The Professional on laserdisc, the tagline from a recent review read, "Makes [the movie] Speed look like a walk to grandmother's house." Well, although I enjoyed The Professional much more than Speed, I felt that not only was that an inaccurate assessment of the movie, it was also misleading to those who watched it based on that. Asses.

I can't imagine that I would ever purchase a CD with a picture of a black ram's head with vampire teeth and the body of a voluptuous woman with gigantic tits stuffed into a police uniform throwing out the peace sign and the word "VAGINA" emblazoned on the cover by a group named 'Puscifer' (sounds like Lucifer) as a cover. I don't listen to that kind of music. I didn't know that it was the solo album of lead singer of Tool nor would that have mattered - I don't listen to Tool either.

Then again, I would be judging a book by its cover.

But isn't that what they want me to do? According to wikipedia, Target and Wal-Mart refused to carry the album based on its cover alone. So what do you think the cover is pandering to? Certainly not my demographic!

So I was up late doing research for a future post, and I had something like 50-tabs open on my browser. One of them had music embedded. WE'RE NEARLY A DECADE INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM! STOP EMBEDDING MUSIC IN YOUR WEB PAGES! Anyway, I didn't want to go searching for it (Safari has a sort of dicked-up tabbing system) so I simply paused my iTunes. As I made my way down the tab list one at a time, I finally reached the page that was playing music. I'd heard the song on repeat a dozen times by now, and its subtle complexity aroused my curiosity. There was no hint as to what was playing, so I had to extract it from the page source. "Queen B" from Puscifer's album V is for Vagina.

I now own the album.

I wonder if their sales soared or were hurt by their particular marketing decision? And yes, I judged this album by its cover. Isn't that what they wanted me to do?


Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
melancthe at 2009-01-20 16:34 (UTC) (Link)
Don't even get me started on this. I bought a friend of mine one of my all-time favourite books, Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth, as a birthday present but, a year later, he still hadn't read it. Being the subtle person I am, I asked why, and he said it was because he only read fantasy, not hard sf, so he hadn't gotten around to it. I was WTF over this. After all, this is considered a fantasy classic: I mean, it's where the idea for the D&D spell memorization system came from, FFS. Then I looked at the cover:

Talk about horribly misrepresenting a book. There's not a single spaceship to be found in the Dying Earth milieu: it's a fantasy world where magic is real. The cover is amazingly inappropriate, and managed to single-handedly persuade someone not to read the book.
ehowton at 2009-01-20 16:54 (UTC) (Link)
I suppose that's why good copywriters get paid so well, and why companies are willing to pay large firms their exorbitant fees. For not sucking.
Tat-Man the Zombie Hunter
scareypete at 2009-01-20 17:22 (UTC) (Link)
I got Suckered into Buying this CD out of Curiosity over the cover. Cowgirls... Meat... I figured Punk or Cow Punk or Rockabilly..

Nope Lame college rock.

ehowton at 2009-01-20 17:55 (UTC) (Link)
My blog is filled with exploits over albums purchased because of boobage on the cover. I'm a simple man.
Tat-Man the Zombie Hunter
scareypete at 2009-01-20 18:05 (UTC) (Link)
As I said to the young one (Snapper)... Misogyny is fun.
ehowton at 2009-01-21 03:24 (UTC) (Link)
Mine is based wholly upon philogyny.
Tat-Man the Zombie Hunter
scareypete at 2009-01-20 17:19 (UTC) (Link)
Lol I can't Pronounce That bands Name... And yes its an All Star Line up, Every Album is a Bit Different. Really Really Interesting Music. WAY better than Tool.

People Who Judged The Tenacious D album by its cover would have thought Hard core Swedish death metal...

Speaking of you and your musical Tastes... There is a band that I kinda maybe prolly sorta like a little, But many of My friends are ga-ga For. A Japanese group called "Dir En Grey" They Combine Synth Pop, J-Rock, Metal, And Opera Into a cacophonous whirlwind of sound.
ehowton at 2009-01-20 17:42 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the tip! I'm always interested in new music that I probably wouldn't find on my own. I'm really enjoying this Puscifer album. Might look for their remix album when I get home.
thesweetestnote at 2009-01-21 19:59 (UTC) (Link)
Maynard James Keenan is a beautifully weird man. Just how he rolls. I love Tool. Anywho, that cover wouldn't have made me buy it. I would have probably saw it then said to myself "fuckin' dumb ass kids these days... this world is going to shit" ...then the feeling that I'm not cool anymore would have set in, then I might have made a return to at least listen to it... and so forth.

Everything is packaged for purchase or... for other things...

Chris Rock -

"...the visual lie... look at you -

you got on heels... you ain't that tall,

you got on makeup... your face don't look like that,

you gotta weave... your hair ain't that long,

you gotta wonderbra on.... your titties ain't that big,

everything about you is a lie... and you expect me to tell the truth!?..."

Misrepresenting is Stealing!!!

If ya care to watch:

LOL! love the part about the *Porno Cellar*
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