Booking Through Thursday: Cover

CAN you judge a book by its cover?

Well, you always can, but should you? That’s the question, I think.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I’m a very visual person—I’m a horrible aural learner. So covers naturally appeal to me. And the cover is often a good barometer of what the publishing house feels about a certain book; did they splurge on an innovative design, or give it a utilitarian design and just get it out there? I don’t think you can judge content by a cover, but you can judge faith and popularity by a cover, and that’s sometimes useful to the bewildered bibliophile in a bookstore.

13 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Cover

  1. I find it interesting to see the differences between UK and US covers for the same book, since they tend to have different styles. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books are squarely aimed at the sci-fi market in the UK by their obviously space-suited figures, whereas the US versions tend to be less overtly genre-pigeon-holed. I do object to the way that authors’ works are often re-packaged in order to identify with other really popular books (Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Women of the Otherworld’ books have been recently reissued with covers reminiscent of those black and red ones for Meyer’s Twilight series, which bugs me, because Armstrong’s books are better than that).

    I do like series which have an identifiable ‘livery’, like the Penguin Modern Classics – sometimes that encourages one to pick up a book that one might not if it had a plain cover.

  2. Great answer – I agree, there must be a reason that some books get such wonderful covers and others don’t. (: It’s a good place to start when looking for new books.

  3. I agree, covers can definitely attract you but I’m not going to read a book just because it has a lovely cover. Plus I get most of my books from the library so while I might be drawn to a book reviewed on a blog because of a cover, there’s no guarantee the copy I’ll receive from the library will be nice. But I’ll still read the book anyway if it’s good.

  4. Studies have shown that e-books with covers sell better than e-books without covers. That would be a major indicator of the impact a cover can have on a book.

    That being said, the covers of Patrick Rothfuss’ books aren’t very dynamic. They’re mysterious and that’s probably their appeal.

    I remember the covers for Stephen King’s Dark Tower books sometimes show a lovely sunset of a coast–and a silhouette of the Dark Tower behind the sunset. It’s a subtle thing that gets the idea of the tower’s size across and makes someone wonder just what the story is really about.

    Honestly, a cover’s job is to bait a reader’s curiosity enough to read the book or at least the cover text.

  5. There are so many books still on my “to read” list that I simply don’t have the time to buy a new book purely on cover appeal. If I do, it’s simply because I’m intrigued by the cover, as opposed to being intrigued by the book itself. Mo Hayder’s “Pig Island” had a strangely appealing cover, and since I found it in a charity shop, I bought it. The book wasn’t much, but I don’t regret getting it for the cover.

  6. For me, particularly in genre fiction, covers have always been a big part of the selection process. I spot a cover scene that looks like something I might like, then I read the back of the book, (or the dust jacket flap) then maybe skim a few pages. But it’s the cover that first catches my attention.
    In mysteries you can usually tell from the cover and title if something’s going to be suspense, hard-boiled, historical, a cozy, or whatever. Same in fantasy, where the cover usually gives you a clue to the nature of the book, be it Hobbitoid, Conan-ish, the latest Harry Potter knockoff, or a paranormal romance trying to pass. Of course sometimes it’s just a painting the publisher had sitting around…

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