As children, we’re told to not judge a book by its cover and this is great metaphorical advice. Not leaping to conclusions is always a good rule to stick to. However, how many of us literally judge books by their covers?
The cover of a book tells us so much, from how the publishing house wishes to market the book, to what kind of story we might find inside. I mean, that’s the point of the cover. Whether it’s an illustration, a version of the adapted movie poster, or covered in excerpts of reviews, the cover is there to tell us both what to expect from the story, who the story inside is for, and whether or not it’s in Oprah’s book club.
I recently saw a list of similarly comped up book covers (I will add the link when I find it!) and then made these myself based on the tropes that always jumped out to me. Is the difference between a ‘cultural dramatic fiction’ and ‘chick lit’ just having a male or female author, respectively? Who decides when the name of an author is worth outweighing the title of the book? Why have stock images on the cover to give the reader a predetermined visual instead of letting them use their imagination? Nobody likes it when the movie adaptation is used for the cover, right?
I know that in the past I’ve not read a book because I didn’t like the cover, only to really enjoy it when I begrudgingly read it. If the cover were blank, would it be better? Do we enjoy books more or less when we know the general gist or theme? There is no right answer, but I think a good answer is for the publishing houses to find some new ideas when it comes to covers.