"Whether a book is worth buying lies in its content, not its blurb." - Chen Cun
Though I agree with the above quote, I admit if I were to receive a blurb from a well-known author such as Jodi Picoult, Janet Evanovich, or Stephen King, I’d probably jump up and down with delight. (I’d like to say I’d turn flips or do handsprings, but I do know my own limitations.) Yet the practical side of me wonders how important blurbs are in selling books.
In my post on eponyms last April, I mentioned that the word “blurb” came from the book cover of Are you a Bromide? designed by Gelett Burgess in 1907. Miss Belinda Blurb, a fictitious female declared, among other things, that, “This books has 42-carat THRILLS in it.” I haven’t read the book, but the with the subtitle of “The Sulphitic Theory Expounded and Exemplified According to the Most Recent Researches into the Psychology of Boredom Including Many Well-Known Bromidioms Now in Use,” I think that blurb could be a bit of a stretch.
There’s no way we can know if the book would have sold any fewer copies if Miss Blurb had never made an appearance, but the fact that very few books are published without blurbs leads me to believe someone thinks they’re important.
Not to long ago Lynn Sellers wrote in her post, Writer Promo Swaps, “Writers have always exchanged high-praise blurbs with each other (with the most famous example being the writer who blurbed himself using one of his pseudonyms).”
That intrigued me and forced me to go digging to find out the name of this gutsy person. The man was Donald Westlake. According to an article on EW.com, “On his website, Westlake noted that the cover of Cunningham’s 1970 book, Comfort Station, even contains one of his favorite blurbs: "I wish I had written this book!" — Donald E. Westlake. You’ve got to admire a guy who could get away with blurbing himself.”
In an recent article, from The Guardian, “What’s the Point of Book Blurbs?” the author, Daniel Kalder says, “Then there are blurbs, the more of which you can plaster on your paperback the better. Usually these are from newspaper reviews reduced by your sales people to a string of superlatives here, a comparison to somebody more famous than you are there. If the blurb comes from a review by a famous person, then they may just run with the name of the celebrity alone ("The Da Vinci Code is f*cking awesome!" – Salman Rushdie).
“Do these blurbs – many of which could be transferred from book to book without great difficulty – actually sway readers? I mean, if you believed them then you'd think every book published is, like, really amazing.”
You can click here to read the entire article.
I’d love to know what you think. Are you swayed by a blurb or the person who wrote the blurb? Have you ever not bought a book due to lack of blurbs or because one was written by someone you didn’t like?
Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: Chen Cun, Jodi Picoult, Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, blurbs, Lynn Sellers, Donald Westlake, Daniel Kalder, Belinda Blurb, Gelett Burgess,