At a recent literary event, I was surprised to hear how much importance is attached to the cover of a book. The successful crime writer Stephen Booth revealed this his publisher had set the wheels in motions for the design of a cover for one of his novels on the basis of nothing more than the title, followed by a brief synopsis. This was said in response to a remark from the member of the audience that she only bought a book if she liked the cover, followed by her question about how a cover is chosen. The panel went on to say that an author has very little input. The cover is so important to large retailers and supermarkets that they will refuse to stock a book if they don't like the design. One panel member later remarked on a personal case of a cover being redesigned because a particular supermarket chain refused to otherwise take the book.
Is our choice of reading subliminally affected by cover design? In my case, I think not. I choose books on the basis of reviews and/or reputation of the author - and so far as the treasure trove that I discovered in Dad's attic was concerned (all plain cover hardbacks that had lost their dust jackets) simply because they are there.