Back Cover Blurbs: Puff Pieces and Windows on Cultural Values

  • Helen Basturkmen


The blurb on the back cover of a book has a strong promotional function aiming to entice readers to select the book in question. It offers fulsome praise, shuns negativity and is often edited by the publisher (Cronin and La Barre, 2005). Bhatia (2004) traces the historical development of the term ‘blurb’ back to the appearance in 1907 of a comic book jacket decorated with a drawing of the beautiful ‘Miss Blurb’ and subsequent definitions of the blurb as a ‘flamboyant advertisement’, a brief description functioning as a ‘commendatory advertisement’ and a ‘puff piece’ (p. 169). Blurbs are also sometimes referred to as ‘advance praise’ and according to Cronin and La Barre (2005) some US publishers explicitly label them as such on book covers. These writers entitled their own study of blurbs as an enquiry into ‘patterns of puffery’.


Language Learning Language Teaching High Frequency Word Intended Readership Back Cover 
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© Helen Basturkmen 2009

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  • Helen Basturkmen

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