The Lowdown On: Judging a Book by its Cover

Whether you like to admit to this one or not, it feels like we’ve all done this one at least once. It’s actually difficult to avoid if you’re in a physical or even digital book store given that the cover is almost always front and center. It’s by design and it’s slowly become one of the big production points of a book.

As someone who studied and enjoys marketing, I’m perfectly alright with admiring a good cover. The amount of time and love that goes into these varies, but the fact that it’s all centered around the story or character and not just words on the front? Makes it more interesting and unfortunately has also become a standard. The unfortunate in that last statement is why this is a discussion point and not just us oohing and aahing at these books. If a publishing house doesn’t put time and effort into a cover they are just tanking their own profits without cause, but a self publisher? Often what you see is related to budget, not a lack of caring. Not that that is every case, but it can be a serious factor.

Scenario: Think about all the times you’ve gone down the aisles of a book store, some stores show only the spines, but quite a few face the covers forward. You are given a limited time to choose, what do you look for to slim down the choices? This is taking out known books on your wish list, so often it comes down to the first things you see; author, title, and cover. The author part isn’t helpful unless someone mentioned them or you’ve read their work, so it’s really just title and cover, both of which are supposed to give you a somewhat decent idea of what the book might be about. The goal when being good book lovers (I feel like I’m a doggy getting patted on the head with that) is to not use the cover to determine a book’s worth, which I feel like most of us don’t, at least not solely. That’s where my honesty comes in, while I want to support all authors I can, I still read only 50 to 60 books a year, meaning I still have to be picky. That then brings up the question of what to do. For that, I really do stick to my method of cover and then synopsis, letting the book fully tell me what it has to offer. I have had some not so good books with gorgeous covers, it does happen. I might even try the blind date books idea if I see it at some point!

What are your thoughts on going off book covers in the book buying process? Is it really so wrong to like a good cover? Let me know in the comments below!

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