You are probably more than familiar with the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, which for most instances is probably good advice. However, the more we learn on this course, the more I’m inclined to think that in the literal cases, we should judge books by their covers.
The cover is the first point of contact a consumer has with a book, and no matter how well it is written, or even how good the blurb is (which is also very important), they won’t pick up a book with a bad cover. Publishers know this, and spend a lot of time and money into making the best, appropriate, covers for their books. They design their covers specifically with the target audience in mind, and ensure that it is relevant for the genre of the book.
During the first week of the course we had a great lecture from Auriol on the book cover process, and even got some insight into how the iconic One Day cover came about. And from that point onwards we have continually been told about the importance of the cover, and the impact it can have on retailers stocking the book, and particular likes/dislikes based on the type e.g. supermarket or bookstore (Asda, anyone?).
Even though ebooks are increasingly popular, the cover is still important – and publishers have had to adapt to this, for example, white covers don’t work online. But this is also an opportunity to get creative with the covers, because online it is easy to change them.
Moreover, as we have heard, one impact of digital is to make physical books more of a luxury item. A beautiful cover can make a book into something that you want to display – and consequently something you would buy in physical rather than digital format.
So, although a cover can’t tell you how well written, or how good a story is, it does tell you a lot of things. It gives you an indication as to the genre, it shows you how much effort the publisher has put into the book, and it makes you pick a book up (or click on a link).
Book covers sell books, so DO judge a book by its cover.