Judging a book by it’s cover…

Ah, the age old saying that we’ve all heard ten thousand times. Mostly, in my case, when they dumped a tedious looking, brown covered ‘classic’ in front of me at school and saw the look of boredom sweep across my face.

Granted, they had a point in one case – I quite enjoyed Catcher In The Rye – but nine times out of ten I found the boring looking brown books had boring brown contents too. Aside from Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, which was fine at first but the sheer volume of it caused me to lose interest (and I think I was pretty much the only one in the class to suffer it cover-to-cover and not just hunt down an online summary).

So, my question is – does it stand in today’s market?

If you were faced with the same book with two different covers, would you pick the prettiest or would you just pick the nearest?

I for one am guilty of being suckered in by shiny covers. I would pick the brightest book every time (I do the same with CDs and DVDs too. I think I am part magpie – I want everything that glitters). However, there are several of my favourite ever books on my shelves with ‘dull’ covers such as Jack London’s White Fang and The Call Of The Wild and the Penguin Popular Classic Scottish Folk And Fairy Tales which go against my penchant for pretty things. I admit though that they were both gifts and not personal purchases, chances are I’d have overlooked them in a shop.

I know it’s wrong to assume that a book with a muted cover will have muted colours inside from examples as above but that doesn’t stop me from making assumptions. Now I’m older, I am more likely to give a ‘brown’ book a chance and pick it up but I think, particularly for younger audiences, a pretty and colourful cover is almost essential.

In contrast I have bought many glitzy, bright covered books that were total and utter tripe. It was as if they knew how bad the writing was and tried to lure you in with the promise of glamour on the outside. I know, you could have told me that. I was a gullible 12 year old. I liked shiny.

Which basically brings me to the conclusion that although a bold coloured, glittery or metallic cover doesn’t mean that the book inside is any good, it does make people notice it and pick it up. Or it does if ‘people’ are anything like me, at least.

Am I alone on this or do you folks find the same? Look at your bookshelves – how many ‘brown’ books are there in comparison to coloured, picturesque, shiny ones?

2 thoughts on “Judging a book by it’s cover…

  1. Most of my boring looking books have their dust jackets still and that helps. I admit that the covers do have an influence on what I pick up to look at. The exception is when I’m thrift shopping. Then I’ll look at any book, check the title and go from there. If I have a choice between a shiny cover and a dull brown one I’m likely to choose shiny. However, hardbacks usually trump paperbacks, even shiny ones.


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