Your Parents Lied to You: Book Covers Are More Important than You Think

You remember how your mom always told you that really, really, really overused cliche, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”

Well, I don’t know who came up with that, because I’m almost certain it wasn’t a publisher or agent or writer. (Actually, just looked it up, and apparently it became popular when published in “Murder in the Glass Room” by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller.)

The truth is, a good cover doesn’t necessarily mean a good book, and a bad book cover doesn’t necessarily mean a bad book. So, yes, maybe we shouldn’t judge so quickly. But the addage (We’ll just call it the DJABBIC, because what’s more fun than acronyms?), if we’re only concerned with how it relates to books, is there for the benefit of the authors and publishers only. It would mean they could just throw some easy-peasy, boring cover together and call it a day.

Think of it this way. You walk into a bookstore or a library. All the books have no covers, just the title written in Times New Roman font, and the book’s description typed (again in Times New Roman font, if smaller) on the back. Books are set on shelves spine-out to save space, which means it’ll simply be the title you see, in bland letters. Titles are good and all, because they help tell what the story’s all about. But the font? The background images? That helps actually paint the story.

My point is this: why have a book cover at all if people aren’t going to use it to help them decide what the story’s about? So maybe the cover adds unnecessary flash. Maybe a simplistic cover is what we really need, so readers can focus on the story rather than the outer part of the book.

All I know is that, as a reader, if I see a book with a really good title, a really intriguing font, and a really beautiful background image or design, I’m far more likely to trust in the author. After all, like most things, good book covers cost a decent dime to create, and the implication is that if an author is willing to spend the money to make a decent cover, s/he is likely willing to also spend the money hiring a good editor, and spend the time searching for a good publisher that will help send out the best version of the book possible.

Does it always work out that way? Of course not. In some regards, there is some truth to DJABBIC. But books are lengthy things, and we need some way to gauge whether or not it’s worth picking up from the library or bookstore, so unless you want to spend time looking up the book reviews, covers will just have to be that gauge.

So tell me, fellow readers, what’s the most beautifully-created book cover you’ve ever seen?

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