“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” is a well known literacy rule / metaphorical phrase that can have many meanings, but taken in it’s literal sense applies directly to books.
As I’ve gotten older I have gained a greater appreciation for cover art and the effort that goes into making a book look beautiful on the outside.
Children’s picture books provide images for the story and leave little to the imagination. Where as, novels lack the pictures within the book but sometimes the imagination is assisted in creating images while reading because of the cover image, design, or art.
I for one, admit that I judge a book by it’s cover. This often happens as I am browsing shelves with no specific book in mind. I see a spine that grabs my attention, take the book from the self, and look at the front cover. Within a matter of seconds I either flip the book over or open to read the synopsis, or I place the book back on the shelf and continue looking. Book covers can either draw you into a book, grab your attention and call out “Pick me! I would look beautiful on your book shelf!” Or, they can turn you off of a book based on first impressions and shout “Put me back, I’m not what you’re looking for!”
Book covers can be insightful into what is to come in the book, or they can be misleading.
Here’s an article from “Bustle” regarding cover art that depicts a certain theme but has very little to do with the actual content of the book:
The last time I was the in Goodwill Bookstore, I came across something that I see every so often.
In all the times I have seen different covers for the same book I have never been as surprised as I was by these two covers. I mean, you can see for yourself the drastic difference. Parrots vs two women on a beach. It doesn’t get any more different than that.
So I read the back cover of the book and this is the synopsis:
What do a suburban mom, her troubled daughter, divorced brothers, former child stars, born-again Christians, and young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on LOST AND FOUND, the daring new reality show. In teams of two, they will race across the globe—from Egypt to England, from Japan to Sweden—to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play.
Yet what started as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. The question now is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost.
I am now so focused on the parrots on the cover that I am trying desperately to figure out what they could possibly have to do with this story? (Especially the same story that also has to do with a muted cover of two women).
Based on the synopsis alone, I believe the parrots have very little to do with the story. (As I have not read this book I may be making a false assumption). The book cover with the parrots is an excellent example of how misleading cover art can be for a book. As well as, an example of me judging this book by it’s cover. I was drawn to the parrot cover at first because of it’s physical characteristics. But after reading the synopsis I found myself more drawn to the opposite cover. The two women have more to do with the story but still does not give an impression of what the story is actually about. To be honest I did not buy this book, as overall I wasn’t interested in it. But, if I was interested and considering taking this home with me, I know that I would be more inclined to buy the book with the women on the front as opposed to the parrots. I also imagine that if on the shelf was solely the parrot book, I probably would have placed it back in it’s spot after just looking at the cover, never have read the synopsis, or considered purchasing it and reading it (hypothetically if I was interested in it).
So yes, I admit I judge books by their covers. But I’m sure I’m not the only one?
I know that there is a purpose to changing book covers, and producing different editions of covers. I know this is because certain images draw in different people and different audiences. I imagine this is what happened with the two covers above. Changing the appearance of book covers is also a way to dramatically modernize and update a dated cover and make it seem new to a target audience.
Lastly, I know that it is because of their covers that I have found some amazing books, for their content as well as how lovely they look on my book shelf!
Do you break this rule??