Judging a Book By It’s Cover

There are many reasons to decide to read a book – a favorite author, a recommendation from a friend, buzz, dearth of  other reading material next to the toilet… the list is endless.   One that I know is quite common (although not often acknowledged by some ‘intellectual’ readers) is very simple – the cover.  It’s happened to me on more than one occasion, especially back in my compulsive book-buying days.  One example I can think of off the top of my head is Nicola Barker’s Darkmans.   This is the cover that sucked me in:


I can’t even necessarily tell you why it is that this cover appealed to me so much (although, as Stephen King’s It is one of my favorite books, I have a fondness for stories that might have something to do with a sinister clown).   Whatever the reason, I bought Darkmans on the spot, knowing nothing about it other than what I could infer from the cover.  That’s the power that covers have.

The New York Times has a great review of the 19 Best Book Covers of 2012.  It’s well worth a look.  Here are some of my favorites from their list:

Bloodland by Alan Glynn The Yellow World by Albert Espinosa Wisden Cricketers Almanac


  1. That cover is wonderful isn’t it. Sjon’s from the mouth of a whale, has a wonderful cover, as does David Lloyd’s Warrior. Another one I think is somehow contemplative & yet striking is Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows.

    1. I looked up both of those books and the covers are striking – especially, From the Mouth of a Whale! I was thinking more about this last night and, one of the things I really like about having a blog like this, is in choosing which picture to use when I write about a book. The differences between the US/UK covers (and different editions, etc) leave so many choices.

  2. We don’t judge a book but it’s cover, but we pre-judge a book for sure. A cover tells you a lot about the book. If you notice certain genres have very similar covers to entice their audiences (Romance for example). I’d say that a cover makes me pick up the book but the blurb sells it.


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