Judging Books By Covers


The first book I picked up because the cover was pretty. The second, because I like the way the vines look.

I have some strong opinions when it comes to books, possibly about many things that other people don’t care about.  That’s okay; I can live with that.

One of the things that drives me crazy is when a movie comes out, and suddenly the book is released with a different version of the cover to reflect the movie.  I get why they do that; it’s to increase sales.  Associating the book with the movie makes good sense from a marketing standpoint.

But I still don’t like it.

In general, I prefer the older covers, and when I go to used book stores, I can spend several minutes choosing which cover I like best.  For example, I accidentally bought two copies of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  This was a great book, but I obviously don’t need two copies of it.  However, I can’t decide which one to sell back to Half-Price Books because I like both covers.

People say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” obviously meaning not to judge something’s content by what it looks like on the inside. It’s true, but I confess that sometimes a book cover will catch my eye, and that’s the only reason I read the description on the back of the book.

These things matter. If they didn’t, all books would be in a plain brown cover with simple black writing. A good cover can hint about the contents. When I’m in the mood to read horror, I’m unlikely to pick something with flowers on the cover, no matter what the title says. Well, unless they’re dead flowers. Or blood spattered… you get the idea.

One of the best choices I made, based on the cover, was John Dies at the End. I spotted it while walking through the library, and when I read the back, I had to give it a try. It was a fantastic book. Runners up are the ones pictured above.

Is the book cover important to you?  What are your preferences?


5 comments on “Judging Books By Covers

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    I agree, Doree! I recently went to my local thrift shop to get a book to use as a junk journal and was definitely attracted to one particular book with a great cover. At first I didn’t care what the story was about since I was going to repurpose it anyway, but after reading the synopsis of the story, now I have to read it before I tear it up. Truthfully I got two books but the other one didn’t have such a great cover. I also agree about keeping the original cover, not changing it for the movie version. How do you feel about book jackets? Keep them or toss them?

  2. Sure, the cover is important. In the library all I can see is the spine. If the title catches my attention, I pull it out and glance at the cover. If I like the cover, then I read the description. If I like all three, I read it.
    Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  3. A good cover helps sell the book to a reader otherwise unfamiliar with it.

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