Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Why You Can Judge A Book By Its Cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

It’s an old saying, and perhaps the world would be a better place if we never based our decision to pick up a book purely based on its cover. 

However, this isn’t a world any of us live in.

I have definitely committed the crime of judging a book by its cover, and I know most others would say the same. Publishing companies know this: there’s a reason why art departments spend tons of money on cover design. A good cover could end up being the thing to make or break a book, particularly if the author is debuting. 

Especially in YA, I think covers are important. A cover needs to make a statement, and if you have an attractive cover, the chances are more people are going to at least pick up your book, even if they don’t buy it or even turn the first page. 

Kiersten White’s recent blog about the importance of covers to her also reflects how big a deal a cover is, not only for the readers but for authors too. Of course, a good or bad cover isn’t the be-all and end-all. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s just another thing to make it all real, to remind you hey, this is actually going to be published! 

I’ve seen some beautiful covers out there. Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures series, Maggie Stiefvater’s British Shiver trilogy covers to name a few. I remember my decision to pick up the incredible Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld was mainly due to the unusual covers (which have sadly been redesigned since the many years ago that I picked up the series). 

I can only hope that if I’m ever published, I’ll be happy with whatever cover the publishing company deems worthy. 

Do you judge books by their covers? Can you think of any covers which have particularly stood out to you?


  1. I absolutely judge a book by it's cover... I picked up City of Bones by Cassandra Clare b/c of the cover and it became my favorite book! I'll also always love the American Harry Potter covers.

    1. I know what you mean, it's an absolutely wonderful cover, although I'm not a fan of the series myself. I think it's quite easy to get attached to book covers, especially when they're on books you love!

  2. While I'm still likely to pick up a book if I've heard enough good things about it, I'd prefer the cover to be attractive before I go near it. The cover of Lili Wilkinson's 'Love Shy' is cute and playful, Chuck Windig's cover for 'Blackbirds' is mysterious and intriguing. I find the covers for the Twilight books and The Hunger Games cover (the plain black cover with the mockingjay pin) to be creative, but they don't draw me in. I read them because of what I'd heard about them.

    Covers are definitely important! I'm scared that I won't be happy with a cover a publisher picks for me. I know I usually have an idea for what I want my story covers to look like... I could always do it myself and self-publish, but then I think of how tacky and crap a lot of such covers look...

    Thanks for this post, Fiona. :)

    1. Yes, I think it can vary, but a good cover is definitely important, if only for drawing initial interest. Plus they can say a lot about the content of the book too!

      I definitely share that worry, and it's hard to know how little influence authors can have on cover design. Situations like the initial cover for 'Liar' by Justine Larbalestier (where the art department put a white model on the front despite the protagonist being mixed race) scares me! However, hopefully neither of us will ever have to deal with problems that bad!