To kick off my first discussion post, I decided to take a look at book covers. They’re the first thing we see when we pick up a book in stores, at the library, or from a friend’s bookshelf. Even ebooks have retained book covers, even though they aren’t bound. Book covers are where most of us start, so I thought that this would make a wonderful first post in Confab. For this feature I intend to write weekly posts related to anything about books or book blogging. These will mostly consist of thoughts floating either at the top of my head or just floating around in general, prompting me to throw in my two cents.
So, book covers. Should we judge books by them? What good can possibly come out of judging a book by its cover? On the flip side, is it really so bad to judge a book by it’s cover? I think it can go both ways. Since I’m such a fan of lists, here’re my pros and cons of judging book covers:
|Covers attract readers to books they didn’t previously know of||Covers turn away potential readers when they don’t like the cover|
|Covers set the tone and expectations of a book||Covers are only able to represent limited facets of a given book|
|Covers help readers identify books they like by association based on the kind of covers often used in particular genres||Similar book covers can be deceiving because the stories contained in the books can be vastly different|
|Covers give an idea of what a book is about||Can be so horribly deceiving|
|When there’s little time to select the next book to read, covers make that decision so much quicker||Just because the designer made a good cover, doesn’t mean the author wrote a good book|
|Makes it easier to find books on the shelf (Ok, that’s the spine but the colours spill over!)||And also, just because the designer made a terrible cover, doesn’t mean the author wrote a terrible book|
|Pleasant surprises await those who first misjudged a book by its cover||Sometimes brilliant covers set up for disappointment when the books doesn’t live up to the expectations|
Alternative covers lead me to redesigns. Some books receive new covers when new editions are published. In some cases, even the title changes. Do these things matter to the essence of the book, that is the story? Of course, not really. In those cases, I suppose it’s really more of a marketing ploy. Some covers appeal more to female readers, while others appeal more to male readers. Some covers appeal more to younger readers, while others appeal more to adult readers. Why else do popular young adult books come in “adult editions”? Besides the packaging, the contents remain the same. Stories aren’t rewritten to target specific audiences. No, I think covers are mostly redone to broaden the target audience, or to boost sales of books that didn’t receive as much attention as expected.
Still, at the end of the day, whether or not one should judge a book by its cover is up to the reader’s discretion. I don’t think anyone can or should prescribe a particular position for others to take.