Why is it so bad to judge a book by its cover?
I understand the sentiment and wholeheartedly approve, but I’d like to take it in the literal sense. I have read a good deal of books, some with covers that have artwork which is magnetic only for the story to be underwhelming and others which are the complete opposite.
I do understand that much of this is marketing. Take Children & Teen Fiction for example. For the most part, books which are for younger readers have beautiful cover work or at least, bold font and coloring to draw attention. Why is it that this stops when we reach Adult Fiction, or perhaps more accurately, why is this less important?
To look at the fiction aisle in any book store has covers upon covers that feel one note, relying too heavily on lettering and vibrancy in the jacket. For truly gripping artwork on covers, one must travel to the SciFi/Fantasy section. Once in this section you are met with a multitude of different art styles which reflect the story within. Like it or not, you can tell the subgenre by simply glancing at its front. Turn the book around and you can usually read a decent summary of what you can expect. The cover is what initially draws us to pick up a book and often times what remains with us enough to purchase the book. Even in the day of Ebooks, our interest is piqued by the image that floats upon our screen.
I recently was asked what made me choose to want two particular books. When I answered quite honestly, the covers, I was given a blank stare and asked incredulously ‘Seriously?’. My colleague was shocked when I replied ‘Yes, of course seriously!’ Both books were stories I have reviewed and are quite different- one a fabulous read and the other an underwhelming mash up of other more successful stories. The novel I enjoyed had a dark background , epic golden lettering, and a female warrior character dressed in clothes reminiscent of the dark ages completing the front. The novel which was underwhelming had pink lettering in a casual and somewhat childish font with an elaborate bordered image. This cover picture contained a girl facing away from the fourth wall looking upon Paris with a flying dirigible. Simply describing these two covers, you can tell they were quite different, each with their respective subgenre and target audience.
Covers are underrated valuable tools for the reader. They can promote a new artist, promote better sales, and most importantly they serve as the first window into the world among the pages. For me, covers are a gateway that should be used more often as such. For others they are a warning sign or a product of major publishing.No matter how we feel, we often judge those who choose their books by the cover. Perhaps our judgment is misplaced and it’s not always so terrible to judge a book by its cover.
Tell me LE readers, do you judge a book by its cover? Do you think it’s helpful or hurtful?