Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
The desert has taught me that scary things often come in pretty packages, and pretty things often come in disguised packages:
The obvious message? Don’t judge a book by its cover. But we do it all the time, don’t we? We make assumptions about people based on their mannerisms, their looks, their speech, their likes and dislikes (even if we try to be unbiased). And, yes, we even do it with our reading purchases. (At least I do … though maybe this is part of my background, having designed alumni magazines in a previous life?).
I will admit to my bias, sharing three specific examples of books I shied away from based on cover instinct only.
I was personally unimpressed by the type-only treatment of this title, which seemed a little elementary and made me wonder about the book’s content (Would I like it? Was it a good fit for my reading preferences?). However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The book is SO smart and the cover actually reveals quite a bit about the story. (The writing in this book is gorgeous, too). I’m glad I ignored my cover-instinct and moved forward. A fabulous read.
This is another book I shied away from based solely on the cover. I really, really disliked the font; it reminded me of a ‘70s throwback and was too fru-fru for my liking. I expected a soggy, mushy romance (See how much I assumed from a cover alone?) But then rave reviews from trusted friends and authors came in. So I’m reading it now. Guess what? I love it. It, too, is smart and beautifully written.
Same story here. The cartoonish feel of the cover caused me to overlook it week after week, even though my Goodreads friends were reading it and reviews are positive. I will read it, despite my initial reaction.
For Readers & Writers So… Am I just a bad judge of book-cover character? Maybe. Do I put too much stock into cover art? Maybe. Or is it just human nature to (literally) judge a book by its cover? Artwork – colors, photos, drawings, font size, graphic treatment – creates mood, doesn’t it? A cover tells its own story, right? It’s a huge marketing tool for the sale of books…
And, in an age of inch-sized images (Amazon, Goodreads), where so many of us make our purchase decisions, isn’t it imperative that the tiny packet of pixels represents the right message? Shouldn’t covers all look professional? And shouldn’t they all tell a compelling visual story? But then again, what I find appealing you may not. What I find compelling you may not … It’s a personal thing in the end, isn’t it?
Do you ever pass up a book because of its cover? Do you even care about covers? Do you think today, more than ever, readers pay more attention to covers and are more discriminating (due, in part, to the sheer volume of work being published, especially in e-book format)?
I made assumptions (incorrect) about the above books, based on covers alone. Maybe I should look to the velvet ant, the Sacred Datura, and the geode … and stop judging books by their covers. The real question is: Can I?