What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Just to chat > Judging a book by its cover: do or don't?

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message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott I do it all the time, and, contrary to the proverb, I find it's actually a good indicator most of the time.


message 2: by LauraW (new)

LauraW (lauralynnwalsh) | 373 comments Since I frequently read books that are written for children, I do it all of the time, too. If the cover is simple and the size of the book is pretty large, I surmise that it is designed for younger kids than I am normally interested in. If the cover features a young woman in suggestive clothing, I also skip it, because the teen books are getting to be a bit too much for me (too much sex, too much paranormal, too much violence, too many dire problems - I want realistic, but not all of the possible negatives in one book).

So, yes, the cover can give me an indication if the target audience is one I am interested in. I won't rule out a book, especially if it has been recommended to me by someone else or if I find a review appealing, but covers do give me some information about the book and I use it.


message 3: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1424 comments The rule is DON'T... But I really do :/

A perfect example for me is Nalini Singh's two PRN series. I picked up the first of the Guild Hunter series because I liked the cover, and was completely sucked into the whole series. Once I'd finished the available books in that series, I looked for any others and found her Psy/Changeling series... and hated the cover, which made me look squinty at the blurb. It just didn't grab me, so I put it off (for a year or more I think) until I had NOTHING else to read and was DESPERATE for SOMETHING!!! And I LOVED IT!!! Seriously I love that series and couldn't put it down, have reread at each new release and still get happily lost in the world. Turns out the cover I saw was the US edition... I was happily surprise by the sleek International cover when I brought it, and if I had of seen the international cover when I first looked, I would have tried it then. I still curl a lip at the US covers for her new releases ;)

Aside from her, I will def get or skip a book because of the cover. But I'm aware of it, so I try and overlook 'bad covers' and read the blurbs. I'll still find myself putting them on the back burner for a better cover sometimes.

As for the library, I hate looking thru the spines, but am still sometimes caught by a good colour or script or title. I find the most books that are 'outside' my known authors and the like are picked up because they were on a display shelf that showed the cover.

It is a weakness... but it's a mild one. I always accept the slap upside the head that comes from reading a 'bad cover' and realising it's a 'good book'. But to be honest, I can only remember one 'good cover' that turned out to be a 'bad book'.


message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott One of the things that goes through my head when I look at a good or bad cover is that it indicates how the publisher feels about the book. If it's got a quality cover by a top artist, I feel like the publisher really cares about the book and considers it worthy; whereas if it has a generic stock photo it tells me they don't really give a damn.


message 5: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1424 comments You gotta remember that the author/publisher also try to aim to 'their market'. That's why the US (local) v International covers can change.

Not a cover issue, but Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series was one that had issues. The first book was released first as 'Crossstitch' (maybe Europe/Oz?), but the publishers (or whoever) said it wouldn't sell in the US as that, so they changed the title to Outlander for that release. I think I heard DG liked that name better and wanted to change it across the board, but it was too late.


message 6: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1424 comments Def give Nalini Singh a go if you're looking for new series. To be fair tho, I have been complaining about the books in the late couple of years. Tho they are lots of books in and they aren't entirely 'bad' just not what I have come to expect from her. Some people still love them, and I'm still reading them which I don't do once a series has really fallen off the wagon.

Saying that, I do still love my yearly rereads to prep for the newest release. Even if the series does somehow 'complete die for me', I'll always have at least a dozen or more books that I'll keep on my active list.


message 7: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1424 comments Lol. Good luck. They can be addictive ;)


message 8: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 333 comments You shouldn't judge, but doesn't everyone anyway?

Cover style gives some really important clues-- genre/sub genre, how old the book is, popularity of the author (not that it's that important, but it's interesting to note if you're not well versed in a particular genre), self published vs trad published, etc.

You can glean some info from the cover, most of the time.

I think the key is to be willing to overlook the cover given a decent rec from a friend or other trusted source. I've picked up books with covers that clearly belong to a sub-genre I have no interest in, but the books ended up being an altogether different genre and I quite enjoyed it once I gave it the benefit of the doubt.


Susan (the other Susan) (theothersusan) | 61 comments Never JUST for the cover, but I've found some favorite books because I was drawn to a striking cover design when browsing bookstore shelves. Examples that come to mind: The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and Karen Russell's brilliant novel Swamplandia


message 10: by Rosa (last edited Jun 18, 2018 09:13PM) (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 5232 comments I'm glad I didn't judge Behaving Like Adults by its cover, because the copy at my library (in the "Chick Lit" section) has the ugliest one I've ever seen. Behaving Like Adults by Anna Maxted But it's quite a good book.


message 11: by LauraW (new)

LauraW (lauralynnwalsh) | 373 comments This discussion reminds me of one I had with an author once. It turns out that authors frequently have no say about who is chosen to produce the cover for their books, nor do they always have veto power over an unfortunate choice. I wonder how authors deal with a loved book and its unloved cover.


message 12: by Scott (new)

Scott It you're Terry Goodkind, you insult the artist.


message 13: by Scott (new)

Scott Yeah pretty much. He tried to backpedal on it later.


message 14: by Sydney (new)

Sydney | 26 comments I almost always do! Whenever I go to a book store, the first thing I do is skim all the titles and pull out any that sound interesting, (or even just ones that look interesting from the side) but I’ll often put the book back just after looking at the cover. Honestly, I like a lot of different kinds of books, but I also know which kind I don’t like, and I can generally tell those ones by the front cover. I almost never buy a book just because of the cover, but I will purposely ignore it because of that, unless it’s been recommended to me.


message 15: by Rosa (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 5232 comments Chrissy wrote: "Rosa wrote: "I'm glad I didn't judge Behaving Like Adults by its cover, because the copy at my library (in the "Chick Lit" section) has the ugliest one I've ever seen. [bookcover:Behav..."

And what I'm saying is that I'd answer your question with "Don't."


message 16: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1424 comments It is def a benefit of ebooks that you always get a good look at the cover first. The library drives me mad that you can't see the covers easy. Not a problem when you're looking for 'that author or that title', but thoroughly inconvenient when you're 'just looking'.

On ebooks I can overcome a bad cover to check out the blurb, but at the library, there's very little incentive to pluck a book off the shelf... Unless I like the colour on the spine ;)

Now that I've mentioned it, I am going to start plucking the occasional book at random to see if the blurb can catch me!


message 17: by Gerd (new)

Gerd | 223 comments I consider myself a child of the 80's (those were my formative years), so I did read a lot of books with coverdesigns that got made in the 70's, not seldom inspite of the covers (70s art, I believe, can only be loved by the 70s gen).
And consequently passed even more because of their covers (some of which I later found out to be perfectly good reads in terrible packaging).


message 18: by MJ (new)

MJ | 1424 comments I'm an ebook hoarder ;). That's the problem with overlooking bad covers and going off the blurb. If the blurb sounds good, I'll get it... But then I have this 'bad cover' sitting on my shelf for ages and no 'quick' way to check the blurb once it's downloaded. So I keep bypassing them. Every now and then I'll shut my eyes, flick the screen around a bit and pick a book!


message 19: by [on hiatus] The rockabilly werewolf from Mars (last edited Oct 09, 2019 10:34PM) (new)

[on hiatus] The rockabilly werewolf from Mars | 1527 comments It depends. I get most of my books from used book stores, and many of these have a tendency to put books that are blatantly not horror in the horror section, so I judge them in the sense that I will avoid any book with a picture of a shirtless man or a woman's back on the cover, because those are generally not horror (if you run a used book store, please stop putting romance in the horror section. Most people who read horror, including me, don't read romance; and many of them, again including me, actively dislike romance. In general, putting romance books in the horror section is bad for everyone). On the other hand, a lot of older horror novels have covers that are slightly ridiculous (The Parasite is a good example of a book that I like that has a ridiculous cover), but that generally doesn't put me off reading them (except for maybe those Zebra Horror novels from the 80s, although from what I've heard, the content is usually even more corny than the covers); so for me it's essentially a case by case situation.


[on hiatus] The rockabilly werewolf from Mars | 1527 comments Gerd wrote: "I consider myself a child of the 80's (those were my formative years), so I did read a lot of books with coverdesigns that got made in the 70's, not seldom inspite of the covers (70s art, I believe..."

Actually, I prefer older cover art (including 70s cover art) to most current art; and I was born in '98. It feels like a lot more effort was put into the covers (often fully painted) than most modern covers, which look like they were made in a single day on photoshop.


message 21: by Frank (new)

Frank | 89 comments I'm guilty AF at judging by the covers.

"It feels like a lot more effort was put into the covers (often fully painted) than most modern covers, which look like they were made in a single day on photoshop."

So true! and the all seem to use the same models.


message 22: by Cora (new)

Cora I actually DO sometimes judge a book by it's cover. Although I mostly chose the book based on how interesting the blurb is, I also chose a book based on how the cover looks. I almost always find the darkly intricate covers (such as; Shadow and Bone or A Treason of Thorns) captivating. (I'm also biased to covers with art by Charlie Bowater though)


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