Judging a book by its cover

I’ve been reading The Man from Saigon, by Marti Leimbach (and if you followed the Currently We are Reading section last week, you’ll know I’m throughly enjoying it) and noticed that on Amazon the cover appears as pictured here – featuring a man wearing a Vietnamese hat.
However, on the actual printed version of the book, the man is hatless.
There was therefore, at some point, a conscious decision to remove the hat from the original cover design of the novel.

I can imagine the editorial-design conversation that probably took place:

Editorial: ‘I think the hat suggests the man is Vietnamese, but perhaps we should accentuate the fact that the story revolves around the outsiders in Vietnam. The hat should go.’ Designer removes hat.

So I ask myself, would it have mattered if they’d left the hat on? Did I subconsciously determine the man on the cover was a foreigner in Vietnam and did that make the book appeal more to me? I can’t honestly say, but perhaps it did.

We have similar conversations here in the office – changing small details on the covers because we feel it will better coax a reader to pick it up from the table or shelf in the bookshop.

You can’t help but wonder whether it really makes any difference at all, but since a book is quite literally being judged by its cover, even the smallest details, as small as a hat, could end up being a subtle factor that leads someone to buy the book or not.

Chiara Priorelli, Publicity Manager

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