"A fast, sharp, ruthless read"
for The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas
"With the Black company series, Glen Cook single-handedly changed the face of fantasy-something a lot of people didn't notice, and maybe still don't. He brought the story down to a human level, dispensing with the cliché archetypes of princes, kings, and evil sorcerers. Reading his stuff is like reading Vietnam War fiction of peyote."
for The Black Company by Glen Cook
"Monstrous, murderous, psychotic, deranged, possessed and insane - the only question is what our heroes hate more : the demons they're fighting, each other or themselves"
for Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes
Simply put, author cover quotes (front and back) are a marketing technique. That technique has been in use for quite a while and is probably more effective in the case of new authors struggling to be known. From what I gathered on the subject elsewhere on the web, it seems that less forty percent of the readers admit to be influenced by author quotes on a cover. Let's test the water with you readers. In this instance, I'm strictly speaking about author quotes. There's probably as much reviewers quotes on the cover of novels but we will get to that another time.
In most cases, an author's quote selected for a cover will probably be from an author writing in the same genre. That could be somewhat useful to pinpoint some works in a specific niche, more so since the author's identity seems to be more important than the quote itself. However, the synopsis of the book should be sufficient to catch the right eye. So can we consider them worthy to push sales of book? Certainly if you judge by the fact that the publishers wouldn't be using them if they hadn't shown their value.
One of the main problem with those quotes, is what is called 'contextonomy'. In some cases, a specific part of a much longer quote can be chosen to be printed on the cover. Out of context, you could praise a novel to a completely different degree simply by taking a smaller cut. The other problem I observed is the overuse of some writers. I have seen so much quotes from Terry Brooks that the guy seems to like everything. I must admit that Steven Erikson is also a frequent occurrence but in a more flavor-able fashion in my opinion (not always the case, I know). Example?
"Brillant, with action and suspense all the way."
for The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
In the past years, I remember being influenced by Abercrombie's quote for The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas. Other notable quotes that probably helped me subconsciously buy a book include Deas' one for Tome of the Undergates or Erikson's 'blurb' for The Black Company omnibus. And I wouldn't have read Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club without seeing the Dan Brown name at the top of the front cover to make me pick it up and read the synopsis.
Just for fun, let's finish with a bad example of magnification :
"I really think it's going to sweep the country as Tolkien's work did in the sixties."
Marion Zimmer Bradley
for The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
All in all, as I admitted that I bought some books simply for the cover in the past, the same can be applied in my case for the author cover quotes (mostly before the burst of fantasy blogs and plethora of online reviews). In the end, when it happened it was usually a good choice but I not sure I will do it again in the future. So, the question is:
Are you influenced by author cover quotes to buy a book?
Feel free to share some memorable author cover quotes!