Guest Post: Judging Books by Their Covers (The Pros and Cons)

This is a guest post by the awesome Meredith Waugh. She was the author of the 500th comment on this blog and so she won that guest post contest I always talk about it. (The next guest post will be awarded to the 1,000th commenter!) If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you should. The blog contains great drawings, great posts, and lots of balloons. Now enjoy her post:

As a general rule, I hate book covers. They are chosen by publishers to sell books, not by artists to enrich society culturally. They are made to be judged… Literally. Publishers choose book covers to be pleasing to the eye and attract the right audience (or anyone, really, as long as they buy the book). There isn’t anything wrong with trying to be successful. I’m not saying that book covers are wrong, just that I dislike them. I dislike book covers because I hate being catered to- I don’t like the idea that someone is designing a cover for a book (that may or may not change my life) just for me. They are depending on the fact that an artistic cover with an offset title in newsprint will draw me in to read the back of the book. They know that I’m unlikely to pick up a cover with an explosion on the front and a title in a clashing color. I don’t like the fact that, no matter how great the content of the book is, the cover is meant to be amazing.

And those dramatic blurbs: (insert extremely modern name here) must sacrifice everything to save the one he loves. But who is he willing to sacrifice everything for? … Hate them. I’m almost even less likely to buy (or, lets be honest, borrow) a book with an over-dramatic blurb on it. The same goes with fifteen starred reviews crammed on the back cover, and the author’s name larger than the title.

Trying too hard.

Anyway, (and are you surprised that I took it this way?) the same goes with people. I’m reminded of a familiar old proverb, but won’t put it here for the sake of redundancy. No matter how hard we try to be open (or vice versa) a cover will formulate around each of us. For example, if I saw myself for the first time, I wouldnt think, “Watches Doctor Who and Adventure Time on Netflix. Doesn’t care that her room is cluttered with unfinished paintings and dirty clothes.” I’d probably think, “She’s kinda interesting, I guess… But really long winded.”

Maybe I am “kinda interesting” and long winded, but that’s only the beginning.

You can never know even the most simple of people, just from their cover. No cover- not even an accurate one- can fully show who a person really is.

In conclusion, here are the pros and cons to judging book covers:


  1.  It is the only way to learn anything about the content, without actually reading it.
  2. The cover is a form of art itself.
  3. You support cover artists everywhere.
  4. You could pick up a book that, ordinarily, you wouldn’t read. And you may like it, for a change.
  • The information gained could be (and almost always is) unreliable.
  • The experience of reading the book will probably be tainted by your first impression.
  • You may leave a book on a shelf that you would have loved, because of a distasteful (and inaccurate) cover.

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Judging Books by Their Covers (The Pros and Cons)

  1. Wonderful guest post, Meredith! 🙂 I agree, about both books and people. And about the author’s name bigger than the title? To me that says “THE AUTHOR IS WHAT IS SELLING THE BOOK HERE!!!! DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO LOOK AT ANYTHING ELSE!! JUST READ IT!!” Honestly, if I see a book like that, I’m not going to read it, 99% of the time.

  2. Just a friendly reminder to Meredith: Remember that you can respond to the comments as if this was your own blog. I think I forgot to mention that. I forget lots of things.

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