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Do you judge a book by its' cover?!

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Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (bloominchick) I'm wondering if ya'll do!

I was at the library today and I noticed that some books I wouldn't even open to take a look at if I didn't like the cover.

I've done this for a very long time and today it got me wondering how much a book's cover has to do with whether or not you pick it up to see what it's about! And what if your mind changes about how the book looks later, do you still read it if you liked it at first & now don't?

message 2: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
I totally do. Its a horrible habit. I know it's wrong but when I'm glancing through the shelves my eye is drawn towards certain looks of books.
The funny thing is I went to check out East of Eden at the library (best book EVERY) and they had like 4 copies of it. Each with a different cover and look to it. I actually found myself being particular about which copy of the book I took home with me. Silly huh? I mean all 4 of them were the same book just looked and felt different.

message 3: by Holli (new)

Holli I do this. I have for forever now. If I don't like the cover I don't even pick it up. Isn't that horrible?

message 4: by Cyndi (new)

Cyndi (chill77) I do it also! If a cover catches my eye, I'll pick it up and see what the book is about. If I don't like the cover, I keep on going.

Kat (A Journey In Reading) (ajourneyinreading) | 390 comments LOL, I am glad that I am not the only one who does this!

I look at the cover and the title.... if neither catch my attention, then I move on.... wonder how many good books I have missed out on by doing this...

message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily (ejfalke) | 576 comments I think we probably all do this to some extent. Even the most open-minded of us have some kind of criteria when we are looking for a book, and the cover is the first thing we see! Titles mean a lot to me as well.

I think it's interesting how different genres of books have a certain "look" to them. For example, couldn't you pick out a romance novel or a murder mystery or a Tom Clancyish book just by looking at the cover? That's usually how I judge if I am on BOMC2 or something and I can't actually pick the book up to see what it's about.

message 7: by Lynlee4 (new)

Lynlee4 | 99 comments I totally do and have read some really great books just because I liked the cover. The one that sticks in my mind is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel. Never heard of it, loved the cover and loved the book!

Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (bloominchick) Once again, glad to see I'm not the only one!

Tera, I do the same w/books of the same title & multi covers! (Really, East of Eden? Tried reading it & never finished!)

Ashley, I may be a cover snob because if I don't like how it looks, I don't pick it up!

If I like the tile but not how it looks, back on the shelf it goes!!!

I picked up "Sufficient Grace" by Darnell Arnoult because the soft cover edition had such a wonderful cover! I loved it! I've seen the hard cover edition and I probably wouldn't have given it another glance! (And it's one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read!)

message 9: by Kristie (new)

Kristie (spedkristie) | 385 comments I have in the past but I find myself outgrowing I'm a title snob!

message 10: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Interesting thread.
For our authors how much say do you have in the cover of your book? Do you have approval rights? If you totally hated it could it be changed? I wonder with so many of us admitting that is a factor how much thought I would put into a cover of a book if I wrote one.
And the title. How much goes into the title of your book? Do you know it as you're writing or does it come during or afterwards?
It is fascinating to find what a book buy takes into account when cold searching for books.

What other factors do you take into account when just browsing your library or store. color is a factor for me and size. If it's too large or too small it's out. Although I have picked up books in the library that were available only in large print because I wanted to read it and actually found it quite nice to have big letters. It feels different somehow having the text so large. I would check out a book with large type before small.
However I love don't love to read books that are so compact and thick that it makes it hard to hold or read when Im in bed.
Emily and I were talking tonight about the feel of the pages and how some books are cut to have uneven pages and some are nice and smooth.
Funny things you notice when you start thinking about the books you are drawn towards.

message 11: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 415 comments Yes indeed I do! I judge it by the cover and the title both. If a book doesn't grab me, I pass it by for one that has an interesting title and cover.

message 12: by Brittany (new)

Brittany (missbrittany) | 336 comments I have many times, with mixed results.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)


Terrible I know but a cover will often draw me to pick it up!

message 14: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments I totally do this. The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan have been recommended to me sev. times, and the cover turns me off every time and I don't get past it.

How about our November book read? That cover is totally YUK in my opinion - another one I'd probably not be reading if not for CoL.

Also the font is a biggie for me. If the letters are kind of small, but the lines of the letters are on the thick side so they're kind of squashed, I'll put it down no matter how much I want to read the book - that's when audios can come in good.

Oh, and the smell. If it's musty-ish then I won't read it either.

message 15: by Peanut (new)

Peanut | 149 comments Sometimes I judge by the cover. Sometimes I judge by the title, too.

message 16: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany (hellotiffany) | 1 comments and by the publisher!

message 17: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 66 comments WOW I totally have to have the cover appeal to me to pick it up and look at it. I am such a visual person. I also notice when a book has unusual paper. I love the feel of nice paper. I'm really bad, because all my purchases have to appeal to me to buy them, cereal, soap, etc. It has to make me feel good and presentation is everything.

message 18: by Christina (new)

Christina (honey1977) | 4 comments I'll have to admit: I'm a title snob myself. I don't buy books if I don't like the cover and even on amazon I look for my genre and only pick the description of the covers that I like. Shame on me but it's true...

message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate | 96 comments In response to Tera's questions to authors:


My experience is, with the big publishers, authors don't have much input. However, with the smaller presses we do.

My first book (nonfiction) was published by a big press. I sent them some art work I wanted them to consider for the cover, but they rejected it and did something completely different. I wasn't totally unhappy with what they chose, but still, it felt odd to have no input.

With my novel, I worked with a great small press and was sent several versions of what they'd mocked up. I knew they had a vision of wanting a woman on the cover. In the first version the woman on the cover looked way too perfect to represent the fallibilites of the narrator. She looked like a Hollywood actress.

When I expressed that concern to my publisher, she had the cover re-done with a different, less-than-perfect looking woman on the front.

We also went back and forth about fonts, blurbs on the cover, etc. It was great to work together on all of this.


My titles almost always come after I've completed a project. This was true for For the May Queen. The novel was finished and I was struggling for a title. Same for my poetry collection. So what I did was re-read sections and unline phrases that felt like they might be able to serve as titles. In each case, that's how I found it.

(By the way, "For the May Queen" is a lyric from a Led Zepplin song--"Stairway to Heaven"--and it turned out to be fitting for so many reasons that I won't go into here so as to not spoil the plot!)

I completely agree that the look and feel of a book in my hand is important, especially since I love to read in bed and in the bathtub!

message 20: by Holli (new)

Holli Kate....I thought your title For The May Queen strange UNTIL I read your book. It fits your book perfectly now and every time I see your book I start singing Stairway To Heaven. I love it :) Perfect choice for the book..........

message 21: by Robyn (new)

Robyn (roxy_nj) | 354 comments I so judge books by their cover. The look of the cover is what gets my attention. I recently saw a books title before I saw the cover The title intrigued me (don't remember it now) and then when I looked at the cover I changed my mind. Wouldn't even read the back. Why? I had another book at home with the same photo on the cover! Different book, different author. Same picture.

Here's another one for you, after approving cover, title and back description I cracked a book open to read the first page. Blah!! It had the musty smell. Hate that. I like that book glue smell but could not bare to read a book that smelled like it was coated in dust and slept in a basement for 30 years.

message 22: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 44 comments Tera,

Thank you for asking: "For our authors how much say do you have in the cover of your book? Do you have approval rights? If you totally hated it could it be changed?"

From what I've heard, this varies from publishing house to house. I only write for Dorchester Publishing (imprints are Leisure and LoveSpell) and I have one short e-book with New Concepts Publishing.

No approval rights for most of us. I did hear of an author with enough clout to have a cover she hated changed. Mostly, if the heroine has three arms, or the heroine is wearing a costume from the wrong Historical period, or the hero's chest hair is the wrong color... too bad.

Mostly, if we hate a cover, we have to deal with it.

With my paperback cover for Forced Mate, I offered my e-book cover, but they went with the cover that was chosen before I had a contract (I was one of the three finalists in a national contest). The concession to my title was that a chess board was superimposed .

For Insufficient Mating Material, I was told that I could not have a barechested hunk (Walmart doesn't like ladies looking at half naked men... they have no problem with men looking at half naked men) and I was asked to send in scenes I thought might work, and suggestions.

I did.

Imagine my shock and horror when I saw the From Here To Eternity scene.

Insufficient Mating Material by Rowena Cherry

I believe in truth in advertising, even for a paperback. There was no possible scene in the book where the hero and heroine were fooling around in the surf! So, I decided that I had to write one. (There were other things I had to explain, too. Such as hair color.) So I did. It meant rewriting half the book!

Yes, it would have been easier if I could have changed the cover, but I had to change the book to fit the cover!

" I wonder with so many of us admitting that is a factor how much thought I would put into a cover of a book if I wrote one."

A lot... we send in detailed descriptions of heroes and heroines, we send in scenes, we suggest colors and backgrounds, but the cover is--as you have all said--so important to marketing and the chain bookstores' romance experts that they do what they think will work.

As a result, book covers follow fashion just as much as clothes do, so one year, everything will be pastels, and another year everything will be black.

"And the title. How much goes into the title of your book? Do you know it as you're writing or does it come during or afterwards?"

There is one New York publishing house where it is really hard for an author to keep her own title. So far, I have been fortunate because I'm not with that House, and my "thing" is chess moves or positions (Forced Mate, Mating Net, Insufficient Mating Material, Knight's Fork). As long as my titles sound sexy (mating or forking) and intriguing, I keep my title.

If I submitted a "Smothered Mate" ... well, that would sound like a murder mystery, and I dare say it would be changed.

My most recent is Knight's Fork.

Knight's Fork by Rowena Cherry

message 23: by Emily (new)

Emily (ejfalke) | 576 comments Wow, Rowena and Kate - THANKS for the input.

Titles are a big thing for me (with my lit crit essays). They usually always come first with my inspiration. My favorite title ever was from my undergrad senior thesis about the status of Afrikaans as a national language in South Africa (I was a linguistics major): Hanging on the Southern Cross. I loved it.

But I digress, horribly.

(Laura, I don't like musty books either. I can't get old paperbacks from Half Price for that reason. I need a nice, new book. I like the larger soft covers the best.)

message 24: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (missfryer) | 532 comments Exactly what Cyndi said.

message 25: by Lauren (new)

Lauren hi emily
I'm South African and I speak Afrikaans, just thought I'd mention it when I saw your post.

message 26: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments Rowena,
When you are done with the man on Knight's Fork can I have him?

message 27: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 44 comments Meg...

Thank you for asking. Beware. The inner hero ('Rhett) is entirely trustworthy and constant, but the cover model spreads himself around to a shocking extent. (Visually speaking).

I think I'll start a thread...

message 28: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments Do you get to work with the cover men? Becoming very envious here!

message 29: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I'm finding the title can have a huge impact. I insisted very strongly on The Wisdom of Whores as the title for my first book. All my publishers were happy with it, but it turns out that a lot of bookshops are reluctant to stock it. Newspapers in the UK were very keen to review it; many in the States were not. The AP newswire quoted me as "author of a recent book about AIDS" because they wouldn't use the word "Whores" on the wire. I was in Singapore yesterday and the main radio station asked if they could profile me without mentioning the title of the book. Some people are embarassed to be reading it in public, others say it is a great conversation starter. But a lot of my e-mails end up in people's spam filters...!

Re covers: what one likes and what sells are often very different. Publishers think they have a handle on the latter, but frankly I doubt that. Most of the time, they just try and make new books look like previous bestsellers. If you agree that it's a crap shoot, then you may as well try to hold out for the cover you like!

If I could figure out how to do it, I'd upload the three highly contested possibilities for the paperback cover of the book right here and let you guys decide which is best...

message 30: by Tish (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:31AM) (new)

Tish | 59 comments I do this all the time. I did this with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I saw this book over the summer and thought nope--not reading because the title nor the cover did not appeal to me. A couple of people told me I need to read this so I picked it up yesterday at the library.
Another habit I have is, at my library the have a piece of paper on the inside that states- Tell the world what you think of this book. You rank it either very good,good or forget it. I usually read what everyone else says first than read what it is about. If people mark good or forget it I may or may not take it--depends on my mood. Very good chances are I will take it.

message 31: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 111 comments Yep, guilty. I so love a great book cover. However, titles are enticing, too.

message 32: by Kate (last edited Oct 25, 2008 09:04PM) (new)

Kate | 96 comments An aside:

Sorry to be the punctuation police, but there's no apostrophe in "its" when it is used as a pronoun. Think "his" and "hers" and "its"--no apostrophe. I can understand the instinct to use an apostrophe, though, since we usually do when something owns something else ("its cover"). However, possessive pronouns(his/her/its/theirs) are the exception.

The easiest way to check yourself is to ask: Does the word I'm using mean IT IS? If so, use an apostrophe. If not, leave it out:

"Do you judge a book by **IT IS** cover?"

Ack, no, that's wrong!

So there's no apostrophe.

(PS: I know we're not worried about our grammar, usage, etc. when we're writing on Goodreads since it's -- it is :) -- casual, but I keep seeing that judging a book by its cover title and I can't avert my eyes!)

message 33: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Oh Elizabeth I would love to see the three choices for your paperback.

I actually LOVE the title of your book. Although I am sure I would get some interesting looks if I were to take it to playgroup to read it.
I will say my husband was never so interested in a book I was reading as that one when I took it to bed to read.
It is a great conversation starter and really I think that is a necessary element to the subject of the book.

message 34: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 44 comments Meg,

Naaah. Some authors do become pen pals with their cover models. Some for instance, write a note to the guy thanking him, and he responds, and perhaps if they don't live too far apart, he might appear at a booksigning, or sign some posters, and the two of them might cooperate to promote a book.

Many, but not all, cover models go to the Romantic Times convention, and so do a number of authors. They might meet there, and strike up a professional friendship. That's how I came to meet a lot of the gentlemen whom I've interviewed for my newsletters over the last three years (and they gave me permission to post lots of photos of them and use a barechested image of them for my interactive jigsaws.)

In my last comment, I meant to suggest that the model on the cover of Knight's Fork is on a lot of other covers.

best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) Partly. I think a cover needs to attract your attention if the book wants picked up in the first place.

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