29 June 2011

Blurbs, excerpts or something else - what do you prefer?

Last week I saw the following tweet on twitter and I would love to know what you think about it.

@littlebrown Little, Brown and Co
In general, which is more compelling on the back of a hardcover: an excerpt from the book, or blurbs? #lbeditor

My answer was and still is "Definitely excerpts because they give readers a chance to get to know the author's writing style".

I'm a big fan of excerpts. I love reading them because they give me a first impression of the author's writing style and that's important for me. I love excerpts in general and I'm always happy to find them (long or short) on books, author websites, etc.. An excerpt is for me like an invitation to read a book and I'm always excited about them.

An excerpt I love is for example this one from Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

The column of light burned blue as a gas flame, and in the incandescent center was a hazy outline of a man... A formless arm lifted slowly, as if pulling against the weight of death to reach for me, and the shade of a mouth worked in soundless desperation as the hollow eyes fixed on my face.

Blurbs (short comments about the book by other authors, reviewers or bloggers) on the other hand normally don't work for me. I especially dislike them if they are on the front of the book, because they often make the cover look weird and inharmonic. 
But even those on the back of a book usually don't interest me. Often I don't  know the people the blurbs are from, or I there are too many blurbs by the same author on a lot of different books, or I don't like the author who wrote the blurb. And sometimes I even wonder if blurbs are real impressions or fake (and yes, I'm a bit wary in genreal).
Nevertheless I can understand the appeal of blurbs. If I would discover a book with a blurb by one of my favourite authors on it, then I would certainly want to know more about the book. But the more compelling alternative for me are excerpts. 

Maybe the ideal solution would be to put a short (well-chosen) excerpt on the back of a hardcover plus one or two blurbs.

What is more compelling for you on the back of a hardcover: blurbs or an excerpt of the book?


  1. I agree with you, I also prefer excerpts. I don't like blurbs in the cover and I think the excerpts represents better the story.

  2. I think I like blurbs better. Only because sometimes I'll be on the fence about trying a book if it's an author I've never read before, but then I'll see a blurb by an author that I DO like praising the book. I'll try it out and usually end up liking it.

  3. I like the blurb as well. I get sold by the cover most time and then turn to the blurb at the back to finish convincing me that it is a book i want to read.

  4. Blurbs. Sure excerpts are good but I want to know what happens in the book, not just what happens during one minute

  5. I'm a cover and blurbs person. I first need to like the cover to even pick up the book. I then look at the blurb then open it up and read a page or two.

  6. For me, it depends on the story. In the case of some books, the pace and nature of the tale just doesn't lend itself well to an excerpt that is short, neat, compelling, and revealing.

    That said, it's most often the blurb that really hooks me. That's what gets me to buy the book. The excerpt just grounds and orients me once I decide to crack it open for a read. ^_^

  7. It's very interesting that most of you prefer blurbs. I like a short sentence on the back that describes the book. I want to know if the book is romantic, thrilling, sad or mysterious. But this short description doesn't need to be by another author.

  8. Hands down, excerpts. Like you, I wonder if the blurb is what the author writing it really thinks. If it was negative in any way, I know they wouldn't use it. I also don't like blurbs on the cover. It's great when you can read a longer excerpt (a couple chapters or first 100 pages) online, so I really know if I like the writing style or if the synopsis hasn't drawn me in enough, but think it's something I might like.

    I'm really surprised people seem to prefer blurbs.

  9. I prefer the blurbs. I want to know what the book is about before I decide if it interests me.

  10. I like both, but I think I prefer excerpts because they give you an impression of what to expect from writing style and maybe characters aswell.




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