The brief description of a book which appears on the back of a paperback or on the inside front flap of a hardback.
A blurb is a short summary of a book or other work of writing, typically found on the back cover or inside flap of a hardcover edition. A blurb may also be used to promote a work of non-fiction such as a biographical essay or an autobiography.
When a book is published, the author or publisher may provide a blurb to be used by booksellers and others in promoting the work. A blurb should not be confused with a review, which is a critical assessment of a work.
A blurb may praise the work it is promoting, but it is not expected to be a comprehensive or objective assessment. The purpose of a blurb is simply to give potential readers a taste of what the work is about and to encourage them to read it.
Not all books have blurbs, and some authors prefer not to have one. In some cases, a blurb may be included without the author’s knowledge or consent.
While a blurb is usually only a few sentences long, it can occasionally be a paragraph or even a page. In rare cases, a blurb may even be longer than the work it is promoting, as in the case of the “false blurb” hoax perpetrated by author Joe Simpson.
Simpson wrote a fake blurb for his novel Touching the Void that was so over the top that it was obvious to anyone who read it that it was not meant to be taken seriously. The blurb, which was included on the back cover of the book, claimed that the novel was “the greatest mountaineering story ever told” and that it would “leave you breathless with admiration.”
The hoax was successful, and Touching the Void went on to become a bestseller. Simpson later admitted that he had written the blurb himself as a way of generating interest in his book.
While most blurbs are intended to be positive, it is not uncommon for them to be negative or even mocking. In some cases, this is done intentionally to generate curiosity or to make a statement about the work in question.
In other cases, a negative or mocking blurb may be the result of a personal feud or disagreement between the author and the person who wrote the blurb. Regardless of the intention, a negative blurb can still be effective in promoting a book if it is well-written and catches the reader’s attention.