Monday, May 19, 2008

judging a book by its cover.

I hate to admit this, but I totally judge a book by its cover.

It's wrong and I'm ashamed. But I have high hopes that admitting the problem will be the first step toward recovery.

We're told over and over that the inside is not always reflected by the outside and yet we have to form our first impressions on something. And what is that something? More often than not, it's the first thing we see.

We judge people based on their appearance. I know, we shouldn't judge at all, but whatever. We do. We judge food based on what it looks like. I'm sure liver and onions is a fine meal, I won't touch it. Same with haggis (much to my Scottish friend's chagrin). So it stands to reason that we form a cursory opinion on books when we first see the cover.

Here's the thing that gets me the most. As an author, I am totally incensed by the idea that someone wouldn't give my book a chance based on a cover that I had nothing to do with. But as a consumer, I want to ring the necks of some marketing dudes who create covers worthy of a trial by fire.

How do I reconcile the two sides of my brain?

I've started forcing myself to pick up a book I wouldn't normally consider and read the back cover blurb. IF that blurb is intriguing, I'll get the book.

Tell me, do you judge a book by its cover and does it bother you?


  1. Ooooh this is a GREAT question. You know, I try to be fair regarding covers, but I have to admit that fantastic covers DO catch my eye. And bad covers have turned me off before.

    Often, if I judge books by covers, it's because I've seen a WHOLE LOT of terrible covers put out by a publisher, and it can turn me off of the publisher in general. Blech.

    But I love your idea of picking up the blurb and giving it a whirl, anyway...after all, all books look the same in the dark, right? LOLOL!!

  2. Most especially. For me, a lot of it has to do with not wanting to carry around a cover with mantitty. Tis one reason I love my ebook reader.

  3. I admit that a fantastic cover can definitely make me pick something up, but it won't get me to buy it. I'll always pick it up, turn it over, and read the blurb first.

    But I'm sure there have been some awesome books that I've never bothered to read the blurb of, simply because I was underwhelmed (or truly turned off) by the cover.

  4. Sometimes, I set out to buy books strictly because they've been recommended to me by friends. In those cases, the covers don't matter. If I'm looking for something new, then I do start with covers. Interesting ones will get me to pick up a book, but a boring blurb will make me put it right back down.

    I try not to judge, but I think it's human nature.

  5. I'm with Amanda on this one - a great cover can get me to pick up the book but it's the blurb that sells me.

    And I have to say, there's an author I would have never read if I only had her covers to go by. I won several of her books in an online auction (I'd seen one of the covers previously and it was the one good one she's had - the rest, not so much). Anyway, she's now one of my auto-buy authors, regardless of the covers she gets.

    Good topic though. :)

  6. I'll immediately pick up a book with a great cover, but I buy based on blurb or first few lines.

  7. Great comments, Mel, and let's face it, we are all guilty. On the one hand, buying a book because of the cover alone has paid off for me a lot. Jacquelyn Carey is an example.

    On the other-- if somebody I trust recommends it-- I'll ignore a cover I don't like. Gemma Halliday is an example-- I put her BACK a dozen times til I noticed her on RD. Now she's not only an auto-buy... I'm a freakin Fangirl!

  8. Yes, I do. Lots of covers catch my eye. The back cover, however, has to sell me.