As a kid I read horse books. I don't think I had one that didn't have a full color beautiful horse to call my attention to it in the book store or library. Oh, wait. Riding Days in Hooks Hollow had a lovely gentle line drawing of three children. Even as a kid it appealed to me.
I am one of the few people who read The Name of the Rose from cover to cover, even translating some of the Latin bits as best I could. Why? Because the cover on the book store shelf said "read me."
For several years the portrait of a nun on the cover of City of Silver by Annamaria Alfiieri called to me from the book tables at a conferences. Finally, I bought it and read it.
Victoria Thompson's work always has a painting of a street scene somewhere in New York City. While I love the books and the covers, I am often confused by the tiles which give nothing away but the setting. Have I read Astor Place or was it Gramercy Park?
The last Charles Todd book I bought was (in part) because of the Iron Bridge on the cover. I have loved the Iron Bridge since I first saw it in college art history.
Cozies over the last few years have been sporting wonderful, inviting covers. Bright colors, interesting settings. Almost as many cute cats as You Tube. I am not a cozy lover but I do read a few every year, and it is the covers that sell the books to me.
Recently at a used book sale, I found an Anne Perry book. I hadn't read The Sins of the Wolf. I like Anne Perry, but the cover was off putting. It was the photograph of an urban street scene. From the clothes, I'd set it around 1895, maybe even 1900. My first thought was "I didn't know Anne Perry ever wrote anything about New York City. OK, maybe it was London. It was only 50 cents, so I bought it. The first thing I did was look up the original book, in part to see the cover, and in part to read a synopsis. I was astonished to see two ladies in hoop skirts on the cover. Turns out it is set in 1856 or 7, at the end of the Crimean War. Way different and way more appealing to me.
I'm pleased to say that, in this case, the book is very much better than its cover.
It isn't the quality of the cover as much as the elements in it that grab me. The covers don't have to be professional, nor even good art. Not very well done line drawings, poorly constructed collages of interesting things, a horse, any kind of a horse. I will pick these books up and read a few pages.
I read one book with a cover in black and dark purple because the black thing looked like a sunken ship, couldn't read the title. Terrible cover; loved the book.