Judging a book by its cover

The saying goes that you should never judge a book by its cover. However, in my experience, a book’s cover can reveal a lot about its contents and can be instrumental in its success.

It’s been reported that on average, it takes us only seven seconds to subconsciously judge a new acquaintance. Which leads to the question, why should it prove anything different with books?

I for one confess to doing this on a regular basis. If a book doesn’t feel right when I pick it up, the style of text doesn’t appeal or the image doesn’t draw me in, I’m immediately prejudiced against it. In fact, there’s a whole shelf of unread books from my to-be-read list sitting on my bookshelf that I continue to pass over for others.

It’s not just me that feels this way. Take Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat for example. Read the reviews and it’s clear that bloggers and critics everywhere have very different opinions of this novel, but one thing that’s generally agreed upon is that the cover is truly lovely. Some even state it as their reason for buying the book in the first place.

The thick matt finish and the raised embossed print create a tactile finish to the book and distinguish it from its competitors on the shelf. The author and title are clearly displayed and the dark, stormy cover image visibly hints at the subject matter addressed within its pages. The blurb effectively summarises the plot and provide a degree of intrigue, as do the testimonials from respected industry critics and authors.

There’s no way around it. The cover of a book is the first thing we see and in my experience as a reader, a good design can be a massive influence on a reader’s initial reaction to a book. In a world that’s increasingly moving towards the Internet, e-readers and the such like, this is arguably more important than ever. Anyone can download a book from the Kindle store, but if a cover is beautiful and interesting then – just maybe – more people will invest into a physical copy.

But although a good cover design is important, it’s what’s inside that counts the most. A great story that generates great reviews and a good social media buzz is always going to do well!


2 thoughts on “Judging a book by its cover

  1. Pingback: Review of Pierre Szalowski’s Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather | SEEING. READING. THINKING. WRITING.

  2. So very very true! I am exactly the same, I have some books that have been on my shelves for years simply because when I look at their front covers they just don’t appeal to me as much as many of the others do! However, in the past I have also made the mistake of having a series on my shelf for years that I didn’t read because they had naff covers and when I finally got round to reading them I absolutely loved them! Now I always wonder how many good books I’m missing out on because I’m vain 😛 and yet, I still never change my ways! I guess it’s just the human condition, lol!

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