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Book Specific Discussions > Judging a Book by Its Cover

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message 1: by Keith K (new)

Keith K | 10 comments I was just looking at some suggestions on another thread and came across "The Giver". I have seen "The Giver" multiple times in stores, and even though it has an enormous gleaming seal of approval on it, I was never taken in by the rest of the cover (perhaps because the seal left so little room for the rest of the cover), but after reading a bit about the book I am intrigued by it and will hopefully read it soon.
I am one of those readers who judges a book by its cover, and I like to let my first impressions of a book affect my excitement for a book, sometimes I will walk into a bookstore to get a book and will walk out with one whose cover grabbed me a bit more. Although this has led me to overlook great books because the marketing didn't jump out at me, it has also worked out for me a few times. I am wondering if anybody can think of examples of books that had terrible covers but were surprisingly great books. Vice versa, or any stories or thoughts about covers and their relation to content.

P.S. I find it difficult to buy a book with the film adaptation's poster as the cover. Am I the only one?


message 2: by Kate (last edited Nov 03, 2010 06:27AM) (new)

Kate | 269 comments I sometimes judge books by their cover if I am browsing in a store and come across something new. I also have probably missed a few great works because of unappealing covers, but I have found new authors and interesting books due to great covers. I do not like movie adaptation covers as a rule and when buying for my sons I will try and find the original even if the movie has brought them to the book.

Are certain colors on book covers more appealing? My aunt will buy anything with a blue cover; she says she is never disappointed.


message 3: by Keith K (new)

Keith K | 10 comments Catch-22 fits the blue theory for me. I remember being slightly put off by the cover, but after reading the book the cover seems to fit a bit better.
I could not bring myself to read No Country for Old Men after watching the movie and loving it because all I could find in the store was the poster cover and i found it a nagging reminder that I found the book because of the movie, which I felt guilty over for some reason.


message 4: by SheriC (PM) (new)

SheriC (PM) (shericpm) If I'm wandering the bookstore I may be drawn by an interesting cover, but if the jacket blurb (or whatever you call the summary inside the cover flap) doesn't turn me on, I put it right back down. I can't think of any particularly ugly artwork that covered a great book, except the cover of The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, Book 3) by Stephen King . But since it was book 3 of King's Dark Tower series, I would have bought the book even if the cover was baby poop yellow and the title written in comic sans. There is only one type of cover that will keep me from buying a book. Historical romance is one of my guilty pleasures, but I won't buy a book if the cover features heaving bosoms, etc. I would be embarassed to be seen reading it, even by perfect strangers.


message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2843 comments Mod
I go through thousands of books for my library's book sale and only write down a few titles from those thousands. It has to be the cover that entices me.


message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael (mkindness) | 537 comments Mod
Sheri wrote: "I would have bought the book even if the cover was baby poop yellow and the title written in comic sans...."

Sorry, but I draw the line at Comic Sans.


message 7: by Keith K (new)

Keith K | 10 comments I have a moratorium against all titles or promotional materials advertising a book written in Papyrus. I'm training my eye to completely reject the font and replace the font space with nothing.


message 8: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Busch | 1 comments If I'm in a bookstore and if a book doesn't have an engaging image I have little reason to pick it up.

Of course I have bought books with great covers but were lousy reads.

Yet I'm an artist and maybe book art isn't as important to others.

This off topic, but I just want to say I dislike that hardcovers have a removable paper cover. If I'm going to spend $25+ on a book can't the publisher spring for some glue? I'm 1/2 joking...I'm sure publishers do that as some "standard" that they all feel they must obey.

I would love to hear a podcast talking all about book cover art. How art is chosen; how much say (if any) an author gets about the illustrator; art cover trends right now, etc.


message 9: by Esther (last edited Nov 25, 2010 06:05AM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) I am attracted by cover art but it is only enough to convince me to pick up a book not to buy it.
I am sometimes put off by cover art but if I really want to read the book I resort to wrapping paper.

My favourite illustrated book is still The Hungry Caterpillar and as a child my door was decorated with a poster of a Rackham illustration


message 10: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2843 comments Mod
I personal go through every single book that my library puts in its biannual book sales. I occasionally see a book that entices me through it's exterior to investigate and add to my TBR list. If I had to explain exactly what catches my eye, I could not explain it. Cover art will never compensate for a genre I'm not interested in.


message 11: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 279 comments Do they have awards for cover art? If so, I would nominate the hardcover art for A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Some stray thoughts ...

Booksellers' lore says that yellow covers don't sell. Tell that to the publisher of THE HELP. ;)

That beautiful jacket for The Children's Book: not the jacket for the paperback. The paperback looks very much like the original jacket of Byatt's previous book POSSESSION. I wasn't in that meeting, so I don't know why.

Movie tie-in covers. Many, many, many people hate them. They want the original. However, the movie tie-in cover ALWAYS boosts sales of the original as well. My theory: the movie tie-in cover catches the eye and allows people to make the connection between the book and the movie. Then they may buy the original version. But if the movie tie-in version didn't exist, people would not be so quick to buy the book at all.

Joshua: a cover art episode would be great. We'll work on it.

Truly, covers area HUGE topic of conversation within publishing houses. It's not nearly so simple as coming up with a good design -- there are so many other factors. Best lesson learned: I once complained at a sales meeting about a book jacket that I thought was not right. The publisher responded: "so what would you do?" I had no idea. I learned then to shut up. There are professionals at work. They are not always right, by any means, but they know more than I do. ;)


message 13: by Keith K (new)

Keith K | 10 comments The covers that I want to see more are covers like The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. That is a wrap around cover that, I feel, not only entices the reader, but also develops and deepens the mystery and mythology of the book. When I was analyzing the cover I found myself picking apart the different images on the cover but also trying to piece together how they would fit. The covers that annoy me most are ones where the decision for the art is made, seemingly, separate from the content of the book. Why not use the cover to help establish the world of the novel?


message 14: by Dottie (last edited Nov 28, 2010 10:20AM) (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 130 comments A book which I think addresses the last line of your post Keith would be The Arcanum The Extraordinary True Story by Janet Gleeson Sadly the link will NOT open the larger image of the cover -- the cover I'm refering to is the cover on the hardcover original edition of the book. Many of the motifs of the porcelain which is the topic of the book are beautifully illustrated on the jacket of that book.

I deefinitely have slected a book having been first captured by the cover and then intrigued by the flap info. the most recent example which comes to my mind is Traveling with Pomegranates A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd


message 15: by Becky (last edited Jan 23, 2011 08:03AM) (new)

Becky (beckymurr) | 512 comments I am a sucker for a great cover, I feel like a moth to a flame!! If the cover didn't draw me in chances are I would have never picked up certain books....were they all good, no, but still I go for the cover....& I agree, if the book has been made into a movie I try to find the book without the movie promo all over it.


message 16: by Callie (new)

Callie (calliekl) | 646 comments The most striking cover for me recently was Little Bee (in paperback). Very striking.


message 17: by Melissa W (new)

Melissa W (melissawiebe80) | 199 comments Depending on the book, I like the movie cover, but most of the time, I do try to find the original one, especially if I have the rest of the series in the original. I understand why booksellers like to do this, but for some of us, myself included, we would like to have the original cover.

I do judge a book by its cover, sometimes. Not that often, but a book does draw me in if the book cover is different than what I have seen before.


message 18: by Helen (new)

Helen Dunn (hmonkeyruns) | 110 comments When I am in a bookstore, I am a sucker for a good cover. I'm really a marketing person's dream: I fall for every new version of anything (Limited edition M&Ms! gotta buy em! Oh look at this do-dad at the checkout,it's only a dollar, I'm totally buying it!)

I get my "real" book recommendations from the BOTNS podcast, from friends, or from reading reviews but when I'm just at the store for fun, I let the covers lead me and hope for the best. Most of the time it is OK but sometimes a book cover lets me down.

The combination of Ann's endorsement on the podcast and the adorable cover of The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise: A Novel made it a must buy for me....but I can't get into the book despite multiple attempts.

I also hate movie covers and try to avoid them at all costs. It makes me feel like I am somekind of bandwagon jumper to reading and that I'm only doing it because I'm some kind of movie groupie.

Maybe my kindle will cure me of my book cover problem.


message 19: by Ash (new)

Ash (campcreekpunk) I just saw a book tonight (These Things Hidden) on a total whim because I thought it had a nice cover. Turns out it takes place in Iowa and is written by an Iowan, which is nice for me since I am also from Iowa. So sometimes it works out! Or at least it has so far.


message 20: by Louise (last edited Mar 11, 2011 01:32PM) (new)

Louise | 279 comments Melissa wrote: "Do they have awards for cover art? If so, I would nominate the hardcover art for A.S. Byatt's The Children's BookThe Children's Book by A.S. Byatt"


Yes its fabulous :-)
I also couldnt resist
Flappers and Philosophers The Collected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Penguin Hardback Classics) by F. Scott Fitzgerald "

I have at present vowed to NEVER get an e-book reader, a kindle or any such thing! :-)
I love holding/reading a beautiful hardcoverbook, looking at the shelves in my library etc.
I will sometimes buy a book for its cover IF the story sounds ok/good, and I also love if the pages are made from a nice paper quality.
I generally like a cover to be imaginative or classic and not too messy.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

The Millions has an annual feature where they compare the US and UK versions of certain books ie: the US and UK versions(respectively) of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender . I thought it interesting although I disagreed with them concerning the US cover to Super Sad True Love Story Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart as I found it confusing and liked the UK version better.


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