I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but, come on, who can honestly say they've never done that before? Have you ever read a book just because you liked the cover? Have you even bought a book just because you liked the cover?
I've often checked books out of the library just because, while browsing the shelves, the cover caught my eye. That's how I got started with Mercedes Lackey, a former favorite author of mine who I've since sort of abandoned (although I still reread her older books). I was on a gryphon kick and spotted Black Gryphon while browsing the fiction section at my public library.
It's very rare, however, that I will buy something just because I like the cover. After all, what if I end up not liking the actual book? So I was a little shocked with myself when I bought not one book, but an entire 4-volume series, just because I thought the cover of one of the volumes was amusing and "pretty." I didn't even read reviews of any of the volumes - the closest I came to doing actual research on them was reading the short synopsis on the online product page. Luckily, I ended up enjoying all four volumes, but I could've just as easily found myself cursing the loss of $25.
So, has anyone else been so foolish? (Or do you not actually view this as foolishness?) How did things turn out?
I'm reminded of a paper I read while taking my MLS program's readers' advisory class. It was about a library with either a display or special section for its classics (sorry, I can't remember what the title of the article was, who wrote it, or even where the library was located). The librarians chose to invest a little money in the project and buy newer, prettier copies of the books. Not surprisingly, circulation of their classics went up.