Book jacket descriptions aren’t that great

When you read enough book jacket copy—that’s the stuff on the back of the book or inside the jacket flap, telling you what to expect within—you start to notice strange patterns. Books from one of the big four publishing houses will have a line or two promising that the latest in literary fiction is a sober look at our current dilemma/modern age/social media addiction/technological approach to dating. If the copywriter is feeling bold, maybe they’ll let us know that the writer is a “dazzling new voice,” or that the release of this debut novel is “heralding a brave new voice in fiction.” From there, a frustratingly vague description of the plot usually contains a foreboding line letting us know the protagonist needs to go on a journey to another country to find herself, or that a man will try to save his marriage or family. End with a reminder that this book is very important and/or brilliant. Just like every other book.

Source: Book jacket descriptions for titles like Luster and The Silence are terrible.

Book jacket copy is so bad, that I’ve come home from the store with a greatly anticipated new book that it turns out I’ve already read. Or, I waste time at the store trying to figure out whether–if I haven’t read the book–is it something I want to read. It’s hard to know when the jacket copy makes most books sound like the same book.

This is what happens when droids are allowed to write the jacket copy.

–Malcolm

 

4 thoughts on “Book jacket descriptions aren’t that great

  1. I have to write the book jacket back cover info for a collection of short stories my mother has written. A very timely and humorous and (maybe even) helpful blog post. Thank you!

  2. I used to love the blurbs on the book jackets — they were exciting stories in themselves. The only thing worse that bad blurbs is the author’s photo taking up the whole back cover. Eek. I always feel cheated. I mean, why am I supposed to care? As for droids writing the blurbs, the last book I read did have back cover copy rather than just a photo, but one of the comments was that the book was “deliciously creepy.” One was “deliciously eerie.” Another was “deliciously chilling.” Huh? You’d thing the book was about food rather than a ghost in a rage.

    1. Those book descriptions sound deliciously bad. When I review a book, I like a good description. It sets the tone insofar as the author’s intentions are. It also tells me what I can consider a spoiler and what not; if an event’s in the blurb, then I can talk about it without worrying about giving it away.

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