Why “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” Is Bad Advice

3 weeks ago
ARTICLE AD

This contented contains affiliate links. When you bargain done these links, we whitethorn gain an affiliate commission.

It’s a Saturday greeting and you’re looking for a bully mode to unbend from your hectic week. You’re tired, but you inactive privation to get retired of the house. You determine to spell to 1 of your blessed places. For astir of america bookworms, it’s a room oregon bookstore. With a java successful hand, tote bag, and earbuds, you peruse the shelves. You halt erstwhile you spot small notes near by the unit that catalogue immoderate of their favourite books. You whitethorn halt a fewer times to cheque a publication that you’ve heard astir oregon instrumentality a look astatine a caller publication by an esteemed author.

As you instrumentality this trip, your eyes creation on the covers. They waltz from agleam hues to muted tones. Your eyes tango implicit immoderate bestsellers and linger connected a fewer modern classics. They yet settee connected a golden screen packed with images of a dragon and rose. Everything from the font to the coloring resembles a fairytale. You determine to prime it up and work the wrong blurb. It’s astir a young pistillate who indispensable permission her tiny colony to service the wizard that protects them. It reminds you of 1 of the galore Grimm’s fairytales you work increasing up. There’s drama, adventure, intrigue, and a acheronian magical unit that lives heavy successful the forest. You are delighted by the magical images connected the cover. You determine to acquisition it and marque your mode to the currency register.

Sounds similar a mean buying experience, right? You wander, find thing that catches your eye, and look a small further.

But…isn’t that what we’ve been told not to do? You know, justice a publication by its cover? How does this doctrine acceptable into your publication buying experience?

Well, earlier we get there, let’s instrumentality a look astatine what goes into a publication cover.

What’s successful a publication cover?

It’s beauteous standard. Most publication covers see a title, writer name, design, and tagline. Others whitethorn see a fewer quotes by critics oregon different authors. When we speech astir judging a publication by its cover, we could get into a agelong database of items similar the writer sanction oregon the title. These are important, but they steer the speech into different direction. Judging a publication based connected an author, centers the ideas, reputation, and sentiment of the author, alternatively than the plan of the cover. For the intent of this post, I’ll beryllium focusing connected the art, design, illustrations, etc. that look connected publication covers.

What does the operation adjacent mean, anyway?

Well, simply put, this operation focuses connected not judging something’s worth solely connected its carnal appearance. Seems elemental and straightforward, right? Doesn’t it besides look a spot obvious? With astir things, bash we lone basal our judgement connected 1 thing? There’s a multitude of factors progressive erstwhile judging anything. The quality is conscionable 1 of them. Of course, implicit time, the operation has been utilized to discourage radical from valuing someone’s quality implicit their personality. For books, there’s this conception that selecting a publication based connected the screen is simply a antagonistic oregon elemental minded action. The operation has go much than a reminder to see aggregate factors erstwhile choosing a book. Now, it tin beryllium utilized to perchance disregard the imagery, illustrations, and designs that wrapper up a book. This tin often run nether the presumption that the screen isn’t a morganatic crushed to select, purchase, and work a book. 

This presumption is 1 of the reasons wherefore I deliberation “don’t justice a publication by its cover” is atrocious advice, but that’s not all. Read connected to find retired my different reasons.

Book Deals Newsletter

Sign up for our Book Deals newsletter and get up to 80% disconnected books you really privation to read.

Thank you for signing up! Keep an oculus connected your inbox.

By signing up you hold to our terms of use

Why is “don’t justice a publication by its cover” atrocious advice?

First, the screen of immoderate publication operates arsenic a speech starter that a prospective scholar responds to. To beryllium honest, whether we similar it oregon not, a screen is often the archetypal happening idiosyncratic sees erstwhile looking astatine a book. Sure, we’ll often work the synopsis oregon the blurb, but that usually occurs aft we spot the cover. I similar to deliberation of covers arsenic the commencement to a speech that readers prosecute in. Some covers whitethorn invitation a affable glance, a interaction to the binding, a flip done its pages, oregon a travel to the backmost cover. Other covers whitethorn beryllium precise enticing to definite readers, but not to everyone.

The House In the Cerulean Sea cover, sadly with nary  cats connected  it

When readers prime up a publication oregon enactment it backmost down, they are simply responding to a fixed acceptable of data. They are making judgements, but these judgements are based connected a assortment of accusation provided by the cover. In its simplest form, a screen volition often convey what is successful the book. If there’s a crow connected the cover, past you astir apt deliberation this publication volition see thing astir the bird, beryllium it virtually oregon figuratively. The ocular facet of a publication screen is not to beryllium ignored. The screen has circumstantial details that springiness america much accusation astir a text. I mean, see the The House successful the Cerulean Sea, which was designed by Peter Lutjen and illustrated by Chris Sickels. The screen matches the rubric which besides matches the contents of the book. The House successful the Cerulean Sea is not conscionable a place, it’s a location with a definite level of mystery, magic, and adventure.

Second, we each justice books based connected a acceptable of criteria. Some justice a publication by the title, author, plot, tagline, writer bio, blurb, and truthful on. I deliberation galore of america hold that astir things should not beryllium judged solely connected 1 factor. For astir decisions, 1 indispensable see aggregate perspectives. In this case, the screen is conscionable 1 of the galore factors considered successful a publication buying decision. But if a scholar wanted to, couldn’t they halfway their determination astir the cover? If a scholar thinks that the screen creation is simply a large origin for their consideration, shouldn’t they beryllium allowed to usage that accusation for their decision?

And if we’re not judging a publication by its cover, what is the constituent of the screen successful the archetypal place? Why person a screen if radical importune that you shouldn’t instrumentality it into relationship erstwhile assessing a book? Good books are planned retired well. They wage peculiar attraction to large elements similar the plot, characters, and cardinal conflict, but they don’t hide astir the details. This includes the cover, artwork, design, and truthful on. Everything is enactment successful spot for a reason. We should respect that. This leads maine to my adjacent point.

Third, disregarding the screen besides disregards the hard enactment of the artist, author, and different unit progressive successful creating and publishing the book. Each screen takes a definite magnitude of accomplishment to complete. There are truthful galore dazzling, charming, and clever publication covers. Some covers whitethorn look similar they were easy enactment together, but galore are exceptional. Wouldn’t this proposal disregard the skills, time, and wealth spent creating the cover? There’s the clip spent processing the concept, creating the design, and good tuning the details. Creating a screen to correspond a completed communicative is hard work! That’s a batch of effort and enactment for readers to simply glimpse over. Shouldn’t we beryllium blessed that radical are utilizing the screen to signifier an opinion? 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Fourth, publication covers supply a definite magnitude of accusation astir the publication itself. They are utilized to bespeak the genre and different applicable accusation to imaginable readers. Many genres abide by their ain acceptable of screen designs. From a YA phantasy bid to big romance, the favoritism is clear. These 2 things are not similar the other. That’s a just judgement. Let’s spell backmost to the publication I described successful the beginning. The 1 that reminded the scholar of a Grimm fairytale. Uprooted is simply a magical, dark, and adventurous communicative with wide fairytale tropes. This screen of Uprooted, which was designed by David G. Stevenson and Scott McKowen and besides illustrated by Scott McKowen, conveyed elements that tied to the contented successful the book. In this case, the screen isn’t simply decoration, but a messenger that delivers indispensable accusation to prospective readers.

We tin spot this successful different genres too. Take a cozy enigma for example. These books often see a pun successful the title and cute images connected the cover. For the astir part, we each expect to spot definite things connected covers of peculiar books. For regency romance books, don’t we request a screen that features a expansive property and dresses with a precocious waisted bodice? Many genres abide by this idea, focusing connected imagery that resonates with the communicative and audience. In this way, covers springiness america a sensation of what volition beryllium successful betwixt the pages. It tin service arsenic an appetizer oregon the entranceway of a restaurant. The screen shows you what you could bask from the book. It helps the scholar determine if this publication is what they are looking for.

Of course, galore covers tin beryllium misleading. They tin evoke images of amusive successful the prima oregon a summertime fling portion besides hiding the aggravated depressive authorities of the main character. To this, each I tin accidental is simply a screen similar that is besides a choice. Maybe the author, publisher, oregon different unit wanted to reel successful a peculiar demographic that wouldn’t needfully effort this book. Plus, adjacent erstwhile a publication turns retired antithetic than expected, the wide acquisition tin inactive beryllium positive. 

How does this use to authors?

I’m definite it tin beryllium disheartening for an author’s enactment to beryllium judged connected thing that whitethorn person been wholly retired of their control. And for that, I consciousness for you. If that’s the case, much apt than not, the readers that you privation to reach, the readers that your publication was geared towards, would hopefully look beneath the surface.

On different note, if you’re not reaching the readers that you are targeting due to the fact that of thing similar the cover, past that’s much of a publishing oregon selling problem. A screen tin beryllium utilized to acceptable a publication into a definite class and marque it entreaty to a peculiar audience. Whether the screen fits the contented of the publication oregon not isn’t genuinely the reader’s problem. They’re simply enjoying the fruits of this industry. Many of them are not privy to what happens down the scenes. 

Final Thoughts

Readers are going to support connected speechmaking and judging based connected a full big of criteria. The screen is conscionable 1 of the galore factors that are taken into account. Like different aspects of a book, it holds invaluable accusation astir the communicative kept inside. Disregarding it is atrocious advice. Instead, wherefore not effort judging a publication by its cover? Maybe adjacent clip you peruse the shelves of your vicinity bookstore oregon scroll done the galore titles listed online, you tin prime books purely based connected the cover. You ne'er know, that could archer you everything you request to springiness that publication a chance.


Like this topic? Check retired these different articles:

The Value of the Book Cover: My Favorite Way to Discover Books successful Libraries

I’ll Take a Side of Illustration With That

It’s Okay to beryllium an Adventurous Reader