I recently decided to buy a used copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, not because I wanted to read the book (I already have) and not because I genuinely needed the copy, but because the cover was so pretty I couldn’t resist! Because of that, it made me start thinking about the value of covers, and how much they influence who reads the book, and how popular it becomes.
I know about the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but we all know that that’s virtually impossible. When you’re in the library, or a used bookstore, your eyes scan for book covers (or more accurately, sides) that pop out Andy intrigue you. Then, for me, I read the back and make a final decision. I can’t even count how many incredible books I’ve picked out this way. So that proves that at least sometimes, it works.
But then I think of all of the books that i might be missing out on because their covers didn’t make me want to pick them up in the store. There could be an AMAZING author out there who goes undiscovered not because of bad marketing technique, but because people don’t like the cover that they see in advertisements or on the shelf. Do you think that this occurs? In my opinion, a large reason that I never pick up adult contemporary romance novels is that the covers always somehow look cheesy, and that’s a huge turn off. But, on the other hand, 50 Shades of Grey by E.L.James has a more intriguing cover, and, although I didn’t read it myself, it got a huge amount of interest and made me want to read it (the only reason I didn’t is that my mom cleverly kept it off her shelf). So, using that as an example, it does seem like the covers make a difference. Or else James’ story was so freaking incredible that it got enough attention regardless of the cover. Still though, I can’t imagine the entire world reading a book with one of those cliche romance covers. It’s this indecision that forced me to write this post. I just need somebody to make a logical argument that I can agree with.
I think, if the cover does determine the popularity of a novel, this becomes a huge problem for Indie authors who don’t have the funding to hire people to make it for them. In this case, they’re already at a disadvantage to print huge copies, and they’re unknown, but even the books they get on the shelf are less likely to be chosen because, to be honest, if you are going to buy a book you want it to be an attractive addition to your shelf. Do you think there’s anything we can do to change this?
The opposite problem is also just as big. When you buy a book because it sounds half decent and it has a pretty cover, but it sucks, that’s a huge letdown. You go in having such high expectations, and then they are just crushed by the weight of the actual words. I have found this to be a huge problem lately, with authors paying more attention to their artwork than their actual work. Maybe that’s just me, I don’t know.
I also believe that Kindle and other Ereaders are helping this to become less of a problem, as you don’t really care about what the black and white picture that you only see once, if that, looks like. When you carry around your Kindle, you don’t see the book cover, so it is essentially irrelevant.
I know I just ranted for a while on a post with contradictory viewpoints and labeled it a discussion, but that is because I really want to hear what you guys have to say about this topic. Reply, argue (nicely), and help convince me as to the value, or lack thereof, of book covers. Please, because this state of confusion is slowly killing me.
Goodreads: Isobel Moon
My favorite post when I wrote this