I think it's safe to say, and it goes without too much saying, we are all influenced by book covers when we are looking to buy. But it doesn't matter who we are, we all have specific tastes that are not always met by the cover trends of the day.
When I look at old book covers from the last century, I tend to think everything has become very brash these days. I loved the old penguin book covers, and also many of the other covers designed in the fifties and sixties too. There was something truly artistic in their formulation and it was easy to see that real artists had created them and not computer programmes.
So maybe that makes me biased. Okay, not maybe. I should say it definitely affects my taste because I have to admit that these days, I tend to prefer 'art' covers to the sort of covers that are churned out by handy computer programmes to provide drama, glamour or sensation. I also like covers to express a bit of humour probably because I tend to like humorous books too. However, when it comes to the specific genres that I favour, detective fiction seems to produce a wide range of cover art, some of which I like and some not. Those which trade on the 'blood and guts' aspect of a novel will often have me shoving them back on the shelves, whereas a more subtle, artistic cover will draw me immediately, but who's to say whether I am being fair? Marketers and graphic designers can't know everything about people's tastes so they go for safety in trends and majorities. Unfortunately, if your taste falls outside of those trends, then they may well lose a sale, because in the end, I imagine many of us browsing in bookshops really do judge books firstly by the cover. It has to grab our attention, before we even start to read the blurb or the 'praise for this book' parts. Without skimming through every book on the shelf, there is no other way of deciding quickly whether we are likely to enjoy a book or not.
So yes, much hangs on the cover, and as writers, we probably choose covers for our books that we personally think will reflect our work in the best way, but again, are we right? Is our taste what will sell the book? Should we listen to the designers even if we don't like what they have done?
Here are a few covers I have personally really liked. I have bought all three books because of their covers, so I'd be very interested to know what book covers you have found appealing?