“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is one of those sayings that seems really profound.
And when it comes to people, I have to agree. You can’t tell what someone is like just by looking at them.
But when it comes to books, a lot of time and energy is spent making sure the cover not only catches your eye, but tells you what you’re about to read.
When you’re browsing books (on a shelf or online) it’s the cover’s job to make you want to see what the book is about (and hopefully buy/borrow it).
Different types of books have different styles of covers, and a mis-match can prove to be a real let-down for a reader.
Case in point, I’m going through a Cozy Mystery phase right now with my audiobook selections (ah, summer). Most Cozy Mystery covers are cartoony and colourful – verging on cutesy – with loopy script, and often punny titles, reflecting the lighter nature of the stories.
So, when the cutesy, cartoony, pun-titled audiobook I picked up last week turned out to be more of a Legal Thriller, I was quick to nope out.
The book is probably perfectly decent, but it wasn’t what I thought I was picking up, and definitely wasn’t what I wanted to read right then.
It makes me sad, because the book may never find its audience: other Cozy Mystery readers like me may well put it down, while the readers of Legal Thrillers are unlikely to even pick it up.
And while that may seem a good reason to go back to our adage, I simply don’t have time to read the blurbs of every book I’m considering (I do read some, if I’m not certain they’ll be my kind of book) and I rely on the covers to steer me in the right direction.
(For the record, most traditionally published writers have little to no input on their covers, while – as I recently learned at a conference – the marketing department has an enormous amount of influence in cover decisions.)
So, what about you? Do you judge books by their covers? Has that choice ever let you down? Let me know in the comments.