Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.
Last time we talked about layout, design, etc as distinct from playability. How about we focus on artwork? If the product uses stock art, are you more likely to dismiss it?
As long as the art is good, and tastefully presented, I don't usually discount something because of artwork. If I recognize a piece from somewhere, it might catch my attention. However, good artwork does have a way of conveying the initial reaction to the book, and I think for that, you have to have the artwork tailored to the work- especially the cover.
I'm okay with any style of art, really, so long as it's the right aesthetic tone, and it actually communicates the ideas that it's supposed to. If the art director can use stock art to that end, then why not?
@Joseph Teller - I've never heard of your game! Just downloaded to take a look... I saw 2001 and thought, "20 years ago?" But it is! Sometimes I forget that the turn of the century is 20 years past now.
I agree with @Eric Franklin: unless it's egregiously bad, art doesn't usually put me off. If it's out of place, sure, and I've seen that with bespoke art as well as stock art.
That said, I generally don't use much art in my work publishing. I don't much mind when other publishers have art that isn't a great fit, but I have a big problem doing that myself. I have other means for breaking Ye Olde Wall O' Text, and would rather be without non-fitting art than use art for the sake of using art.
heh, Thilo (Endzeitgeist) has called me on it, even. Something along the lines of "doesn't have much art, but swirls and other pictures really wouldn't add much, and would in fact interfere with the elegant simplicity of the presentation".
And I have to admit, it tickles me when I recognize stock art. Not in the "oh, that looks generic" sense, but to the point of identifying which stock art it is (publisher and artist). For instance, it made my week when I saw the (previous; they redesigned it) menu at Storm Crow Tavern, and realized the art was all by William McAusland.