I was surprised to read a review on this subject recently and find that it was under reviews for 'Books and Magazines' rather than the discussion section in Speaker's Corner. However I do think it's an interesting concept so I thought I would add my two pence!
I have heard the words 'Don't judge a book by its cover' many times throughout my life, but oddly most of the times have not been referring to books. It's a phrase that I more often find myself or other people using when referring to prejudices and stereotypes that people have based on an appearance. And used in that context, the phrase is true - you shouldn't judge people or places based on a quick first impression of their outward appearance. However, when it comes to books, I find that you often actually can judge a book by its cover!
For example, most books' covers now conform to a sort of code. Chick lit covers tend to be in pastel colours, with the title written in a curly font and hand drawn pictures of young women in dresses and high heels, often holding cocktails. As soon as you see this on the front of a book you can quickly judge its genre and you know that it won't hold too many surprises and will give you what you're after - a light, fun, girly reading experience.
In the same way you can tell a crime novel from twenty paces with its large lettering and bulky font for the title and author's name, often taking up most of the front cover and often looking not unlike a newspaper headline. You know when you see that, that you'll be getting a pretty standard detective novel with a few kidnappings or murders.
Sometimes, though, a cover can be misleading. I recently read 'Lottie Biggs is Not Mad' by Hayley Long, which had a bright pink cover covered in doodles and looked for all the world like the sort of pre-teen and teen girls' diary book that are so popular these days. But although it started off like that, halfway through it turned into an exploration of teenage depression, kleptomania and possibly schizophrenia. If someone didn't know anything about this book beforehand then they would be taken off guard, and I thought it should have had a few sentences on the back cover at least, to warn parents of the subject matter.
Also, of course, there are some books which have bad covers but turn out to be very good once you start reading them. 'Snow' by Orhan Pamuk, for example, has a depressing picture of a man lighting a cigarette on the front cover, but inside it is a vibrant book which covers romance, political intrigue, religious differences, and all sorts.
So what is the answer? Well, clearly not every book can be accurately judged by its cover. However covers and the conventions which bind them (pun intended) can be useful to help you quickly pick out books in the genre you are looking for.
I might not judge the book by it's cover but I often chose a new book without knowing much/anything about just because I love the cover/title.
As a marine biology student I love everything with fins, scales and sharp teeth - so if there's a shark on the cover or in the title it's mine!
An eye catching cover always help if you are just looking for a new book without really knowing what you want. I read a lot - and almost anything. Even the lady at the library noticed that I'm a regular there.
If I see a nice, interesting cover I have a closer look at the book - I rarely look for a certain writer.
Here are some of the gems I found and how the famous cover looks like:
**Happiness TM by Will Ferguson
One of my very favourite books. I found it while looking through a cheap books store; the cover instantly caught my I with the white daisy printed on the bright green page. I didn't really read what it was about because I was in a hurry to go to the airport. I finished the book on the following 3 hour flight without noticing how the time passed. (And that really means something as I hate flying).
The plot (without telling you too much) is about the discovery of perfect happiness/bliss for everyone with the help of a very spacial book - and how this lifelong dream has horrible consequences. It's easy to read, in some places hilarious in others tragic but overall a comedy.
Although it's an easy read it gives you quite a lot to think about without being on of these 'let's save the world' books.
**Bateman - Orpheus rising
I got the book from the library, solely because the subtitle is ' Love, Rockets & a bloody great fish. I love sharks and there was no way that I could resist the big pink toothy grin on the cover.
Unfortunately the shark had only a short - but dramatic - appearance in the story. Still, great book with amazing story about hope, an aneurysm and a maybe happy-ending.
**Extremely loud & Incredibly close - Jonathan Foer
Here I just liked the title, in my basket, in my bookshelf, read in 3 days. It wasn't at all what I suspected it to be about - it turned out to be a lot sadder than expected but still, a great read!
** The 5 people you meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
A quite well known book but after 8 months backpacking in Asia I wasn't really up to date with any bestseller list. I 'discovered' the book at Bangkok airport and it helped me through some hours of the flight home.
Well, imagine my surprise when I came home with my newly discovered book just to find it in the bookshelves of all my friends. Again, I didn't know the author, didn't read the back page, just liked the title (the cover was quite unimpressive but the title is good)
Of course it also works the other way round, if I don't like the cover it's more likely that I don't pick the book up and check what it's about. I generally hate Stephen King covers - all too wannabe spooky and unimaginative - but most of the actual stories are great. Still, less likely that I borough or buy it.
Other things on covers I don't really like are romantic scenes (I hate the classical love story/drama book), tacky images and shoes - don't ask me why but when I see the image of a shoe on the cover I'm definitely not going to get the book. Yes, I might have missed great stories through that but in the end, I'll never know what I've missed.
The latest book I brought is called 'the highest tide' with a giant octopus on the cover - I haven't started it jet but I already love it. Review might follow!
We are supposed to judge a book by it's cover- that's why the artists and designers are paid to get the cover right. They hold focus groups, do market research and monitor sales to do their best to get it right and sell more copies. Look at our best selling living author - despite that fact, Harry Potter book covers were in two versions- one for children and another for adults. From this, it would appear that not only do we judge a book by it's cover- but we worry about how others judge us by seeing the cover of the book we are reading. If I want to buy a book by a particular author I wouldn't care about the cover. But if I am shopping blind- my first instinct is from the title and then from the synopsis on the back cover- but I am not stupid I know that even though I might like to say not - the cover must influence me- or why aren't they all just plain?
I have hunted high and low to try and find where to put this opinion and I'm afraid this is my choice ! For Jill :- If anybody ever came up to me and asked me to name the one thing I would miss most in my life, I would have to say (after family etc.) - good book !! What ! - I hear you scream - a book - give me the film of the book anyday. Well not me. Can you judge a book by its' cover ? not always but it might give you an idea. Can you judge a book by the author ? - not always but again you may have an idea whether you will like it. When I was younger (ahhh !) I had a very troubled childhood - abuse in one form or another but we won't go into that. In my wardrobe I had a shelf and it was packed with books. Most of them were Enid Blyton - The Faraway Tree, Mr Pinkwhistle and the like. I used to lay on my bed and block out all the bad things around and make believe that I was in those lands. To this day I maintain that reading helped me keep my sanity (others may disagree!!). Throughout my turbulent teenage years I still read and when my first marriage was breaking up I took solace within the pages of romantic fiction. Some may say that I was deluding myself, trying to achieve the happiness that is only ever present within a book. Although I mainly read fiction, I have been known to stray into reality with the likes of Schindler's List and Papillon to name a few. I once saw an episode of The Twilight Zone where Burgess Meredith loved to read. He was never able to read due to restrictions on his life and then one day he realised that he had all the time in the world. He made his way to the library and stared up in awe at the dusty laiden shelves only to trip and break his reading glasses ! Today I favour Virginia Andrews, Patricia Scanlan and Erica James and read every night before I go to sleep. I am now happily married with three children who mean the world to me but
I still find comfort in turning over a new leaf every night ! ------------------------------------------ "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August."
The art of reading a book cover is much more an issue if you're buying second hand, where none of the cues - like being in the horror section, are going to apply. I think you can judge a good deal about a book from its cover, sometimes, although I have made a few howling mistakes.... Obviously you get the title and the author on a cover, and if either is familiar, this will sort out your decision. The interesting times begin when you know neither but must judge them on merit alone. You might be able to make stab at the ethnicity of the writer (and you'd probably be wrong, but there we go)and the age of the book. The combination of cover style and title should give you the genre. Genre spotting: Lots of black/dark colours, unspecific image usually equals horror fiction. Pastel colours equals gentle fiction for women readers. Fantasy almost always has a picture on the front, of somthing fantastical, and sci fi can be prone the same way if the author isn't well established. On it goes. Most people know what signifies a bok they will read - the garish colours of modern chick lit, the arty images employed for more literary works. The trouble is, the cover image really only tells you what the publisher is marketing the book as. Sometimes this can be misleading. Very good books end up with covers that tell you "I'm cheap and nasty, read me and throw me away". Especially true of sci fi from the 60s. The melons - I thought you might enjoy some examples. "The Spell" - the cover said - "I am a weird bit of horror, modern, urban (see my city scape and weird monster thing going on?)I'm not high brow but I'm ok." The content was pantz, total, unmittigated pantz. Then there was the Thomas Covenant series, bought second hand and in all innocence. The blurb looked good, the titles were attractive, the covers seemed mystical and magical. I read them with a pecuiliar mixture of loathin
g and fascination - unable to put them down, unable to understand why I hadn't thrown them away yet. They were a bad expereince. Then there was a good one 'The Mists of Power" - Kristine Katherine Rusch. I bought it because I liked the art work on the cover and for no other reason. the cover said "A bit celtic" I went on to buy "The White raven" (different author) becuase I noticed it was the same cover artist. These days, if I see a cover I can identify as a Thomas Canty, I buy the book. Covers are part of branding for most books, with authors like Pratchett having a very distinctive 'look' to them. Mills and Boons all look the same as well. They work more often than not no a less than fully conscious level. Invariably, a good piece of cover art will make me look more closely at a book while a badly rendered or cliched image will cause me to turn away. Images are potent things. With older books, there's also the issue of materials used - some books feel good to the touch, some do not. Some feel slightly greasy or too dry, some feel pleasant to the fingers and this can have a huge impact. I have been known to consider a book just because the material the cover was made from appealed to me. But then, if some thought has gone into the exterior, often plenty of thought has also gone into the contents. I don't think there's anything wrong with judging a book by its cover - after all, you've got to go on something. I usually try to back this up by reading the opening paragraph and a random paragraph from the middle - just to get a feel for the style. Would that I had done this with the dratted Thomas Covenants....... Worth being wary of what it is that makes you think you want to read the book.
Walking down the aisle looking at the book spines, glancing casually over the titles and authors until one jumps out at me, and I pick it up. This is what people typically do when in a bookshop. You dont look at every book in detail; you scan the titles and perhaps the covers if they are visible for one that takes your fancy. In this way at least you have already discarded many books through the cover/ title bar. You have indeed already been sweyed by the power of the cover images. When looking for a book you have to make descisions on which books to pick up and look at, and which ones not to. Luckily for us bookshops are now split into different sections that allow us to choose which type of book we wish to read. No longer do we see "how to play the guitar" next to "heavenly sex in 5 steps"! Past that it really is up to our own descression, knowlege and choices about which books to look at and which ones to leave on the shelf. We may go into a bookshop looking for a specific book, and there are two of this same book, but with different covers. Would you then not pick the book with the nicest cover? In that way we may choose books buy their covers. But if we do not know of an author or title of a book that we want to buy, we do what we all do in bookshops, and indeed all shops, we browse! Dont we just love all the pretty colours, we get sedused by the shiny covers, the wonderful paintings, the snappy titles. All these things help us decide if the book is worth buying. Everyone has their own habits when it comes to choosing books. I have always thought that in fantasy books especially I tend to choose books with illustrations by specific painters. I know that these illustrators are used by authors that write in a specific manner, and are a good enough writer to pay for them! Strange I know, but I have found that it works! Other people go by the titles, if they grab the
attention, before looking at the blurb to check out the plot. Although the cover of a book can give an excellent impression of the book, readers must remember that the illustrator have unwhittingly given a faulse impression of the book as a whole, perhaps only using one scene from the book, rather than the general feeling of the book. In this way you should be warned...always read the blurb to make sure it is the right book for you. I beleive that everyone in one manner or another chooses books through the cover in varying degrees, whether it is just by the browsing and randomly picking up books that appeal to us, or by going as far as to choose the book specifically because of the cover illustration and title. In this way we are all the victims of clever advertising - long may it live!
I think all of us are guilty of judging a book by its cover at one time or another. Perhaps an eyecatching cover is not so important for established authors, but new authors certainly should pay attention to their covers. Covers are also great because they can be beautiful in and of themselves, as well as tell us a story about the life of the book, and of course, if you are thinking of selling an old book, covers are important then too! To be honest, I don't think that many people are particularly bothered about what the cover on the new book by their favourite author is like, so long as it seems sound enough to do the job, the words inside sell the book on their own. However, I do think covers and cover designs are important for newer authors, as they can make a difference in encouraging people (well, at least, me!)to buy that particular book over another by a different new author. Eyecatching covers draw interest to a book, and when faced with shelves upon shelves of lovely new books, not having the time to examine each closely, the cover may be the deciding point as to whether people pick up that book to have a closer look or not! Covers can often tell a lot about the genre of the book too. Am I the only person to have noticed how the majority of horror books (at least, the paperback versions)have mainly black covers? And how Catherine Cookson type books always seem to have a lady in the period costume the book is set in on the cover? Publishers know that, for many of us, a cover is important, and so spend a lot of money on cover designs to grab our attention. Some book covers can be beautiful things in their own right, too. I have a small prayer book, printed in the 1920's, which belonged to my Grandmother, and it has a metal crucifix on the front of the cover, and is inlaid with mother of pearl inside the cover. And I am sure I am not the only one to have sighed at some of the gorgeous old real leather covers, with ha
nd stamped designs on them. I do think covers of this type are being produced less these days, as publishers are favouring the cheaper 'printed design' based covers and not paying the close attention to small details on covers as they did in the past, which is a shame, but means I cherish the books I have with lovely covers even more! Book covers can also tell stories. Many people write their names in their books, or if they are given as gifts, write who they are for, on what occasion and who from. I have a pair of 'Chatterbox' books (an biennial kind of thing) from the 1920's, and one is to 'Gert' from her aunty and uncle for Christmas, and the following one for her birthday. Both have the date they were given inside too. To me little details like this are fascinating; wondering whether the person enjoyed the book or not, and what they were like. Covers can also tell you if a book has been well looked after or not, and they are an important factor which affects the price of second hand books. Overall, I would say that it is best not to judge a book by its cover (I have read some great stories in some pretty horrible covers!), but don't ignore the covers either as, particularly on old books, they can have an extra bonus story of their own to tell.
This category was created for me - come on, admit it dooyoo! It's been there for ages, screaming at me and begging me to write in it. If there were a category in all of dooyoo, and only one category (God forbid!!), where I should be allowed to post, this would be it. No doubt. Why this overabundant enthusiasm? Even less modest than usual? Well, perhaps... but even more importantly, I feel I belong here since a good part of my (hectic - aren't we all? I know) living is made designing book covers. Actually, said part of my living also involves the much less glamorous but equally demanding designing of the inside of a book, but this under-appreciated area deserves a category of its own... (sometime perhaps, this could be an idea for another op - but only eventually, I promise you, I shan't bore you with loads of work-related ops at one go) The publisher I work for is the main publishing group in the country (my country, that is, not the UK - would it were so, think of all those books, and all those covers!), so I'm kept quite busy with covers coming in. As in all creative jobs, once the artist is constrained by that hated word - TIME (aka "deadline's looming, get that cover to the printers yesterday!") - the flow of creative ideas, if any, is reduced to a trickle. It is usually said that art cannot be rushed, and like most cliches it is very often true (with apologies to Wolfe), but in my job some form of compromise must be reached. It is all well and good to create that one memorable book cover that was six months in the making, with all the trappings of a work of art, and that makes prospective customers in a bookstore drool over the book. But if the rate is more like one cover per week, to be completed in between rushing madly to finish two or three different text layouts, the cache of wow/out-of-this-world/event-of-the-century-nah-millennium ideas for book covers depletes itself dangerously. At times, I find myself distilling ideas, seeing what I can save from the left-overs to recycle into another cover. The problem is, since I like to think that I still retain a small measure of pride in my work, the recycled stuff bores me and depresses me at my next attempt to introduce it. Thus, I find myself, clock mercilessly ticking away notwithstanding, trashing all old ideas and starting from scratch. Much to the chagrin of my employer, I might add, who'd rather have the finished product in, like, 10 seconds! But I'm digressing (yet again). I'm not attempting self-justification at the relative (?) mediocrity of some of the covers, honestly I'm not - you haven't seen any of them anyway, so I needn't worry about that. I'm trying to explain, in my convoluted roundabout way, why book covers require such concentration and applied psychology (sorry, couldn't resist that, as Jill'd say it sounded so posh...). I'll try to let you into my train of thought when I'm creating a book cover - fasten your seat belt, it'll be a rough ride, I'm not one for a TGV ride (or is that France? geography buffs please help here...). I Absolute first comandment, no matter the time constraints, is to read the book. Now this may sound like a great thing to have to do for a living, but it ain't so when the cover is for an advanced level chemistry book, I assure you. In which case, incidentally, I proceed to plan B (which is, in case you're wondering, not actually reading the book but skimming through it thoroughly and discussing contents and style with the author - but that's step 2, sorry, I'm rushing ahead of myself). Reading the book will give me an indication of the subject-matter, obviously, but also of the target audience of the book, which is absolutely essential if the cover is to attract the right segment of people. The mood of the writing will have to be reflected in the desig
n, of course. There are only few things worse than opening a book to find something completely different in tone and mood to what the cover suggested. II Wherever possible, I then try to have a discussion about the book with its author - unless, that is, the author is (i) dead, (ii) absolutely intractable, or (iii) labouring under the assumption that a meagre book designer who can probably barely read the newspaper would never understand the profound concepts incapsulated in his oeuvre. [Please don't get me started on this pet peeve of mine - horrid authors - it's way too late in the night for that.] Discussing the book with the author often provides insights into how s/he conceives the book visually. Of course, this step works best when designer and author respect each other's territories. It becomes a total waste of time if the designer presumes to suggest (gasp! shock!) alterations to ANYTHING in the text (believe me, not even if there's so much as a spelling mistake - this will lead to fainting spells and convulsive fits), or if the author comes up with the dreaded phrase: "well, I know this isn't my department at all, but the way I kind of saw this book is with a green and pink shading...". The latter nightmare is usually closely followed by said author retrieving from briefcase/handbag/pocket a sketch of author's "cover suggestion" as drawn by niece/son/pet goldfish. Let's get off this particular subject before I get all worked up, please. III The next stage is the technical bit, where I check with the publisher whether there's a specific size to the book or whether I'm free to experiment. Other details are whether I can go wild with full-colour or whether budget constraints mean that I have to create something decent with one/two colours. What I am ignoring in this op is that this whole process moves hand in hand with the design of the actual
inside of a book - the style of the cover and the text obviously have to be, if not identical, at least consistent and not clashing. IV Now comes the fun bit. To which there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes I start with a clean slate, and scribble around until I hit on something which inspires me. Other times there are photos/images/illustrations that could be included, perhaps linked to similar images inside the book, so I'd start from there and distort/change/enhance the image. Images can be a starting point to create a totally new collage, so that the end result will barely bear any resemblance to the original, yet subconsciously make the reader feel at home with what is to come. In other assignments, I could have an idea in mind - stemming from steps I, II and III - of a concept for the cover, from which I'd proceed. Sometimes the end result is related to this concept, and other times the original concept merely serves to signpost the way to "pastures new". All of this, last but not least as is oft said, is subordinate, to some extent, to the lord of publishing: marketing and sale-ability. Art and functionality do sometimes differ, I must admit. I have innumerable beautiful covers that lie forgotten in some corner of my hard disk, all because they weren't "catchy" enough! Sigh! Creating something that is both beautiful and leap-off-the-shelf-into-customer's-arms practical is THE real challenge, at the end of the day. I could go on and on. But you get the gist of it. Of course then there's the equipment available. Creativity without instruments is unfortunately not enough. The arsenal of tools at my disposal, on computer, make a complete difference. Ok, ok, I promised to stop. I shan't ramble on any longer. And please don't go nit-picking on me, saying that I haven't been to the point. I was just trying to give a different slant to the category. An
"inside" point of view, if you like.
I've a book printed in 1942. It's a Penguin, with a plain blue cover, and it's printed on wafer-thin, yellowing paper. It's a lit-crit book of some sort and I'm not sure that I've really read it, but it's still fascinating. There's a little discalaimer in it, apologising for it's poor quality, and of course, the poor quality is due to the paper shortages of the second world war. I find that slim paperback brings me closer to the realities of 'war shortages' than many dense textbooks. And it's the book as a thing, that interests me here, rather than the text inside it. Strange, really, when you think about it? I wonder what Caxton would have thought? I was at doing my A levels when I first noticed the pale green 'Penguin modern classics'. The best one I found for posing on trains was surely Jack Kerouac. I had a black polo-neck jumper, and I had "On the Road" with its enigmatic black and white 1950's photo on the front. I wanted to be a Beatnik, too. From that I progressed to reading Naked Lunch, but the film had just come out, and so rather than a nice enigmatic cover, I had to endure reading a book with a big film still on the front. I hate those, but I'll talk about them later. I want to talk about those lovely Penguins first. Fine Art was reproduced on the front of writers like James and Forster, although I found the choice of art sometimes bewildering. Why is Forster represented by Monet? What on earth do they have in common? But it didn't really bother me. Buying one of those pale green spines was a lovely adventure, made more so as I was stony broke, and bought most of my books from secondhand shops. Hay on Wye. Sorry, I'm just going to digress like crazy, here. I love Hay. Row upon row of secondhand books, all jostling for attention. Most of my 'modern classics' have been bought here. Orange and White Penguins. I've loads of thes
e. Some are annotated, and some pristine ( I don't think the previous owner ever liked DH Lawrence). I'll bet that if you were at uni in the 1960's you'll have the same feeling about these orange spines as I do about the green ones. I'm keen on them, anyway. I reckon it shows a depth of character if you're reading a tatty orange and white copy of 'Zuleika Dobson' or something, on the bus. Of course, there are the newer orange and white Penguin Modern Classics, too. I think they came before the pale green ones, and I never liked them. They seem to lack the muted charm of the older books, and although the illustrations are often the same as those on the green ones, they just don't look so good. What about all those Black Penguin Classics -those ones with the little coloured stripe at the top, which must signify something, but I'm not sure what. I've grim rows of these on my bookshelves, all telling me that I'm a really serious, intense person, thank you. The facade only drops when you realise that most of mine are Jane Austen. Oh......must mention those bright green Virago's here, too. I've loads of these that I bought secondhand. I think, I really do, that people bought these because they were fashionable for a time, not to actually read them. That's where secondhand bookshops come in to their own. I've read a lot of quite obscure twentieth century feminist authors quite simply because I couldn't afford anything else. The covers? I'd say they are mainly fine art of a modernist ilk. That brings me neatly to Dover Press, and Wordsworth classics. 99p per book. I was a very happy bunny. It was cheaper to buy one of these than get a return fare to the library. Yes, I was that person ploughing gamely through pages of Dickens during my lunchbreak, closely followed by Wilkie Collins and Conan Doyle. Covers? Well, I guess reading Dover said that you were broke, but wan
ted to extend your mind, or something. And the cover pictures are often very pretty, all those patterns in particular. Any company who puts a William Morris textile print on the cover of a classic gets the 'laughing her socks off' vote from me. More Fine art on the Wordsworth ones, often of the gloomy oil painting variety. I'm serious, but I don't have enough money to buy Penguin Classics. That's what Wordsworth were all about, I reckon. Photo-montage. I know the first book I bought with a photo-montage cover. it was 'Possession' by A.S Byatt. It was the first purchase in a spate of books with muted photo-montage on the front. Symbols often featured were clocks, a pretty woman's head, and maybe a leaf or two. I loved these covers at the time, but I'm not so sure now. I think they've been done to death, and there are only so many times that I want to see a disembodied dog next to a watering can, or something equally disorientating on the front of my latest read. Are they waning now? I hope so. They're a close cousin to all those fine line drawings of architectural features that littered book covers in the early 1990's. I've only one book where this style seems at all relevant, and this is " Hawksmoor". I'm digressing again, on to 'Big Books'. By this, I mean the paperbacks as big as suitcases. These embrace several categories, from the thrillers, through Horror, to the Jilly Coopers and Judith Kranz's of this world. I guess Umberto Eco should join this literary smorgasbord, too. The covers? Oozing big gold, or bright red embossed titles, these shout at you from the bookshelves. What else is on the cover? Maybe a tiny picture, or a photograph, hidden under those huge letters. Loud books. If the letters that proclaim the author are larger than the letters of the title, then I tend to be wary. What do these covers say? Well, I think they yell "Read me......I'm by ooj
amaflip". Hmmmm. It puts me off, as does the sheer bulk of these things. How am I meant to get them in my handbag? I don't want to have to buy a shopping trolley to cart around my latest read. They're not as bad as the books that have a picture from the latest film version on the front, though. These really bug me. I find myself looking at these real people, and inwardly complaining " But you're not Bathsheba Evardene" or whoever it is. I hate this tampering with my reading pleasure, and it dates from my childhood. I'd usually read a book several times from a library before I was bought a copy, and so I'd already have mental pictures of what all my favorite characters looked like. I waited patiently for my birthday book, then.....wham....a TV series had come out, and the Oswald Bastable on the front cover just wasn't the Oswald I knew and loved in my head. It made a difference to my reading, it really did. In that way it's often safer to buy a secondhand copy of a book. It does depend on the copy, though. I love the prettiness of the old Everyman hardbacks, with their art nouveau flyleafs and embossed spines. Unfortunatly, their insides can often be unreadable. The paper is flimsy, and I worry about marking the book. I like to read books, not cosset them, but I still buy these when I find them. They're just so pretty. I have got two really cosseted books in my house. These are an early hardback edition of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with illustrations by Arthur Rackam, and a facsimile edition of "Le Morte D'Arthur" with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. I know that illustrations don't really count as 'covers' but I have to mention them briefly. I feel, really strongly, that good illustration can enhance any book, giving it another perspective. just think about Blake, and his illustrations for: "Songs of Innocence and Experience". I
39;ve nearly finished now. The last thing I've got to say is answer the question this category asks. Do I judge a book by it's cover? Well, I think I probably judge the book covers, but I judge a book by its content. After all, that's why I buy a book. I like book covers, and find them interesting, but one thing that saddens me is all the Classic Fine Art that often adorns them. I know it's because Classic Fine Art is out of copyright, but I like contempory fine art, and would love to see more of this used. I like the fact that the Arden Shakespeare's have work by the 'Brotherhood of Ruralists' on their covers. I don't, honestly know whether I'd be quite so tempted to buy them, as opposed to a secondhand paperback, if they didn't. Oh well....I can probably find them as a secondhand paperback anyway, next time I go to Hay. I'd better take a shopping trolley, too.
To some people it must seem illogical to bother about the type of cover a books contents are contained in. To them it is only the words the cover contains that are important to them. Some people do not even save books, they throw them away! Needless to say, l am not one of them! I have always saved and collected books and for my favourite authors l will buy a hardback edition of an older title if l see it at a reasonable price, to replace a paperback one that l already own. I take pleasure in looking at a row of books in good quality bindings, as well as reading them. I particularly like folio book club editions, as they are really high quality. They are one of the few makers of books that when you open them, will actually lay flat and open on the page you are at. They tend to be rather expensive, but if you concentrate on the twice yearly two for one offers the price remains reasonable. One edition that l particularly want from folio, is the edition that they have produced of ‘Lord of the Rings’. At about £60 it is expensive, but as it is a book that l re-read every year it will be worth it. (I have mentioned this, in other opinions and dropped large hints elsewhere. I live in hope that it may appear one birthday or Christmas) One other advantage of good quality hardback editions is that the quality lasts. Whereas a paperback book is starting to look worn out after two or three reads and the lower quality paper is starting to yellow. A good quality hardback book, if handled with care will last for decades. Whether the love of a good book when you extend it to the quality of the binding and the paper, is vanity, good taste or a waste of money, is down to personal choice. Also of course on the disposable income, available to the individual. For me, the cover and quality of a book is part of the pleasure. As l tend to reread good books, l find it reasonable. I do buy more paperbacks than hardbacks and l
also use second hand and discount outlets. But when l can afford, l will always go for a good quality book.
The cover of a book can play an important part in not only how well the book sells but how much some people will enjoy it, to me it has become less important in recent years as I have tended to read more and more books based on recommendations rather than actually picking them from the shop myself but I still feel it is important. --Importance Of The Cover-- Some books are simply known by the type of covers they have, Discworld books for example can be easily recognised by the artwork on the front and the style of this really manages to add something to the book that fans can associate with the series. The cover can enhance your enjoyment of a book if it's great but it can never compensate for a bad story once you start reading. --Book shops-- Sometimes you can see a book that looks really tatty and that I would never want to own, othertimes you can see an old copy of a book and find that it has a personal touch that you would never find with any book from a regular bookshop. Sometimes you see a new book with a cover that just somehow draws you to it. All these factor into your initial impression of a book. If you are looking through second-hand books you will often come across things you have never heard of, as these books tend to be ones that you can either buy then or risk never seeing again unless you remember the title decisions tend to have to be taken very quickly, as such I find that the cover plays an important part in reaching the decision. While I always find out what the book is about too, it would be impossible to read every single cover of every single book in many bookshops and as such most initial reads tend to be based purely on the cover and (to a much smaller extent) the title. A good cover will draw you to a book and even if the description sounds slightly different to how you imagined it you will probably think more of it than a book with a poorer cover. --Online Ordering-- Order
ing online means the cover plays less of a part in your decision, while you often get to see an image of the book this isn't the same as seeing a book cover in person and as such whenever I order online it is almost always going to be based far more on the descriptions and opinions of the book than what the cover looks like. --Recommendations-- If someone recommends a book to me and keeps mentioning it it will often make me want to read it and not care about what the book looks like, how long it is or anything else, in these situations I would again say that the cover of a book plays much less of a part in your decision to buy. --Starting to read a book-- I find that books can often sit on my shelf for a while, after I finish a book and am ready to start another I will look at my shelf of unread books and decide which one to read, a good cover in these cases will often draw it to me and inspire me to read it. While a good cover can't beat a favourite author or other factors it can certainly inspire you to read one book over another and as such books with unimpressive covers can often sit on my shelf far longer than ones that stand out. --Reading the book itself-- Once I actually get into the story itself the cover tends to be important to me, if the story is interesting enough to draw me into it I don't care what the cover looks like as I have an image in my mind of the world inside the book and as such find the cover can often spoil my own view of it, if it shows a main character in the book for example it might not show them as I imagined and as such I tend not to pay it too much attention. ---Conclusion--- If you are in a bookshop with no idea of what you are ordering one of the most important factors tends to be the cover as the book, it would never make me buy a book that I didn't really like the sound of but it can certainly interest me enough to at least read about the book. I am certain t
hat I will have missed out on a large number of books simply because of a poor cover, this is a shame really and it is annoying in many ways that people will miss out on books that they would otherwise have really enjoyed. As I order more and more based on previous purchases, recommendations (both from friends and opinions) and order online more the cover becomes much less important to me compared to if I was buying from a bookshop or second-hand, as such I personally feel that it will play a smaller part in my decision to buy as time goes on.
Ah Book Covers, don't we all love them eh? I mean look at all the pretty pictures!, gee willekers mommy, I wanna buy that one because the picture on the front looks good, heh, excuse the fake american accent and generally terrible attempt at irony in this opening paragraph, I try I really do. Basically if you didn't know already along with movies, I like books, I like them a lot, its often found that I'll be trundling around our local WHSmith or Ottakers like a kid in a sweet shop, but there are so many books out there to buy how do we choose? Well lets be honest here its very rare that I walk into a book-shop knowing which title I'm going to buy, its just human instinct that every now and again we're just going to browse around looking to find the next bargain or un-advertised masterpiece, so I've got to rely on my instinct of what looks like it could be interesting, more often than not that means looking at all those pretty pictures, not the greatest route of selection is it? but in recent months this factor has worked, I would never have bought 'Lost Girls' by Andrew Pyper if it wasn't for the haunting picture on the front cover that attracted my attention, the same goes for 'McCarthys Bar' by Pete McCarthy and many others. But don't worry people it isn't just the picture that gets myself or I think its safe to say a lot of other consumers involved in checking out a book, the title is always going to be important to me, its no good having a great picture on the cover and a terrible title, because more often than not the bookstores will have the books stood with their spines showing to the prospective reader, so all you authors out there get the title right or I'm not even going to bother. Now then on top of the picture on the cover and the title, whats the two things anyone is going to look at before buying a book?, the blurb (not a real word?, then shoot me) on the back o
f the book and as long as they're in a shop that doesn't mind, have a quick flick through the first couple of pages. So to have a quick look at the factors above: The Picture: This is the first bit we all see right?, the picture the thing that makes you want to walk over and investigate further, well this has to be the part that leaps out of the shelf and grabs your attention, as mentioned before one great example of a book that I bought because of its cover was 'Lost Girls' by Andrew Pyper, the cover picture was chilling to look at it made me want to have a look at it, it gave you some idea what to expect of the book itself, another title that does this (although you all know roughly what to expect of it now) was 'The Beach' by Alex Garland, no not the one with the pretty still from the movie, the original cover, to look at it you almost thought that it was a book that was originally published in the 70s and again it stood out, it made you want to check what it was all about, where-as a drab sketching might not have made it stand out and maybe we wouldn't have had all the furour over the title. The Title: Well then, as I've said many a book shop stacks their books spine (of which I don't have) first so that instead of the actual picture all we have is a title, again this is imperative that the book stands out, otherwise I wouldn't have bought McCarthys Bar (a pub name as a title, sure-fire way to get yours truly to buy it), once again it has to stand out otherwise people are just going to overlook it for that book next to yours, and of course it has to say something about the story inside, gain your attention and make you want to investigate further. The Blurb: Well, this is usually the one thats going to sell it, but not through the comments that the publishers have picked up from reviews in the media, more how the author has chosen to describe his or her story in that one paragraph they get to sel
l themselves, how do I mean well what if that little intro by the writer doesn't sound too interesting then we're not going to pick it up are we, this part for me has got to capture my attention, make me want to read further, make me willing to hand my (un-)flexible friend over to the shop assistant and beg them to let me go home with what may be the latest cult book. First Couple of Pages: This is a tricky one for any prospective reader to overcome, most people aren't going to bother looking, and to be honest depending on which shop I'm in I don't either, thankfully my local branch of Ottakers doesn't mind me sitting down to read a little bit of a book before making a decision, so guess where I shop the most!!, but then this isn't much about the actual cover so we'll stop there. Finally do I believe that this culture will continue? well no, what with the advent of the internet, people no longer need to take a chance on the picture, we can read all about it before we actually read it, there are review sites like here and ciao, heck even shop sites are allowing customers to submit reviews, but still, I'll always take a chance on a picture. Don't judge a book by its cover?, whoever said that was an idiot.....
Each book tells a story but its cover tells a bigger one. Each book has travelled a journey, whether you buy it new or second hand like me. Each book I own has been held by many hands, captivated many minds and it will continue that journey, ageing until one day its dust cover falls off baring its bright undercover and the whole thing begins again... Right now I'm trying to judge a book by its cover. Why? Well I have thousands of books and as I prefer them in hardback I often end up doubling them. So I sit here now with two copies of Rose Madder by Stephen King propped up next to me. I'm going to keep one and relegate the other to the car boot where it can continue its journey, but which do I do? They are both hardback, one is small and one is large. The large one has a bright cover showing ripped up paper, it's design mysterious and inviting, captivating in its cover, the authors name barely visible. The smaller one is just a plain brown background with some credit card pictures on the front but just the right size for my shelves! The first copy that I described is my original. I saw it for its author at the time but was taken aback by its cover. I bought it, read it and added it to my collection. A year later whilst wandering around the Spring fair, I came across the other copy. Looking at it, I spotted the authors name in two inch letters and thought "I haven't got that". Judging by its cover it looked boring. It was plain and uninviting, the blurb giving nothing away, but I thought that as it was by Stephen King it should be good. So forking out a massive 50 pence I bought it. So now I sit here with the two copies, deciding which to keep. On the outside they both tell a different story. On the inside the story is very much the same... I'm sitting in a room surrounded with books. Some are tatty covered but most are in excellent condition. Some have been read over and over
and others I pick up, take one look at the cover and put it back again. It would be hard to judge by the cover my favourite books because I'm one of those annoying people that won't bend the spine and ends up with neck ache because of the queer angle I have to bend at to read! I wanted to say that I don't judge a book by its cover but I do and in many different ways. I have bought old hardback books purely because of the lack of an outer cover. The tattered edges and faded colour of the outer shell add to its age and intrigue me more. The pages a faded brown from years of sitting on some old shelf in a big old house. An inscription in the cover from one loved one to another... Each book has its own story. I buy most books second hand because they are more than a book with a written story inside. They all hold their own personal story, the journey from being published, several owners and then on to me... A book that has those lovely creases down the spine tells me its been read over and over and just that can make me buy it. Somebody has sat there engrossed in it from beginning to end and I want to have the same experience... Sometimes I find a "new" book in a second hand shop, I may buy it due to the author or it may have an intriguing picture on the cover. These new looking books may have been put there because the owner couldn't get into it, didn't like the cover or maybe they are just like me and read the book with love. I'll still get it because if I judge it too much by its cover then I could be missing out! No creases, no coffee cup stains...they just read it... I bought a new copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte many years ago, but never read it. It was one of those 99p versions but I just could never get into it. A few years later I saw an old looking red book with no dust cover but beautiful gold writing engraved onto its spine. Each page was edged in a go
ld effect and this book I just had to buy, not even knowing what it was about. I got home and curled up with this perfect book and read it from cover to cover. It was only later as I gave it pride of place on my bookshelf that I saw the paperback that I'd bought years before. I'd just read Jane Eyre... I am not a religious person I openly admit. I don't read the bible from cover to cover, but I do have two copies. One is an old brown tatty one that I've had since a child but never opened. The other is a small compact one given to my Pap whilst in the R.A.F in the second world war. As you may know, I lost my Pap 6 years ago and this bible was left to me by him. The cover is special as it's inscribed on the inside with the year that he was given it and a personal message. This bible I have opened and read bits of... So do I judge a book by its cover? Yes I do and in many ways. Some by sentimentality like the bible. Some by the story the cover implies they may hold. Some by the story that they bring with them from their previous owners and others from the design like Jane Eyre... So have I decided which book to keep? No, I'm still judging them...
A picture is worth a thousand words. And so why is it that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover? One of the most popular debate topics during my school times was that of 'Does a person's appearance reflects his/her personality?' Try as we may to avoid unfounded assumptions and prejudices, the importance of first impressions can not be denied. A person who has an interview for a highly needed job will surely dress his best, as will someone trying to win over the person of their dreams, people working in certain fields dress to reflect their professionalism and so on. Without these attempts to give good first impressions, who knows how many opportunities will be missed. In that respect, an author trying to sell his books should also consider this importance. There are trillions of books out there. An exceptional cover, one that catches the eye will surely increase its chances of becoming a bestseller. I give you Exhibit A. There are many a good books these days that are being adapted onto the silver screen (Is the movie as good as the book? There is another category for this topic right?), resulting in the re-release of the books with covers incorporating the movie stars or photos. I admit that I bought my copy of John Grisham's The Firm solely due to the fact that it had Tom Cruise on the cover. I have never heard of Grisham then but the fact that it turned out to be a great book was a plus. I would not have read the following Grisham books had I not encountered that copy of The Firm that day. And so I'm sure that more copies of Alex Garland's The Beach has been sold with Leonardo's face on the cover, Joanne Harris' Chocolat with Johnny Depp on the front and probably more of Bridget Jones with Renee Zellweger as the title role (Oh yes, as suspected, I just saw the new cover on Amazon!). With the new Harry Potter movies on their way, the now so already popular childrens b
ook will surely receive a face lift as well. Exhibit B. The eye and therefore the mind are attracted to things that are pleasing and new. A beautiful albeit simple cover is more likely to be picked up than the others. There was a time when all the women's romance novels had to have pictures of bare torso-ed men with long, streaking hair and tight pants on its cover. If not that, pictures of sassy women or just their body parts will often do it! (Legs I think, was the most popular!) I love what the revolution of contemporary women (and men) writers have done to change this. The likes of Jane Green, Marian Keyes, Mike Gayle, Lloyd & Rees has done wonders to the cover of books today. The above mentioned is now replaced with charming, cheeky and eye catching covers with pretty (well, I am a girl..we like pretty things) colours and all. I bought Jane Green's Jemima J because I loved the simple yet pretty (OK OK..) cover. Ben Elton's Inconceivable is another one that caught my eye! So there you have it. I know that judging a book by its cover is not good but in a world that is so fast paced, that you even need to find a few stolen moments to finish your books, we can say that judging by the cover acts like a screening process. And if a book is truly exceptional then it wouldn't matter what the cover looked like. If it was REALLY good then it would surely end up on our booklist anyhow, right? (Oh..I don't buy solely by looking at the cover..I love classic books, they usually have very simple and plain covers.) But on the above charge of judging by the cover, I admit I am guilty but I don't think it is something that I would stop doing. It is the way of the world anyway...
A Canadian literary critic active in the mid twentieth century wrote the snappy phrase 'the medium is the message.' While the phrase may have been coined by him, the idea is as old as the idea of rhetoric. For example, an equivalent phrase exists in German- 'Kleide machen Leute'- clothes define people. The idea of judging a book by its cover is not one that should be dismissed. The cover of a book necessarily reflects its context in some way, and it is natural for us to think that. An expensively bound hardback will hradly be expected to contain a telephone directory, in the same way that a trashy and smutty cover will look incongruous on a book about macro-economics. Surely that is why it is so tempting to judge a book by its cover. Marketing people are aware of this human weakness, and so that is why so much effort and money goes into the packaging of books. They know full well that we are affected by the look of something before we have even a chance to look at its content. After all, if you see two women in a bar, one ugly the other stunning, which one are you going to talk to, or want to talk to first, without waiting to find out which is the interesting one?