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Everyone’s heard the phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ before, but let’s face it in some shape or form we all do. Maybe it’s not as obvious as seeing a book with a bad cover and thinking ‘oh, this is going to be a terrible story’ but I do think, for me especially and maybe you as well, covers influence our opinions on what books we do and don’t pick up.
The covers are always the first things we see. You’re browsing on Amazon, or wandering around Waterstones and you don’t have time to look at every single blurb of every single book so you use the covers to help decide what books you may want to know more about, what books you will read the blurb of.
How Much Do the Covers Influence Our Opinions on Books?
I’ll admit there have been books I’ve ended up buying purely because of how gorgeous the covers are. Ink by Alice Broadway is one such example, the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is another. With Ink I didn’t even read the blurb, I didn’t need to, the cover was just so beautiful that I knew I needed it in my bookshelves. With These Broken Stars, although it later became one of my favourite books, when I first read it the blurb didn’t interest me that much and it was the beautiful cover that actually convinced me to pick it up and give it a go.
While I haven’t read Ink yet the Starbound series is one of my favourites, and I definitely credit it with introducing me to the sci-fi genre. If I hadn’t made the choice to pick up These Broken Stars, because of the cover, despite the fact the blurb didn’t really grab me, would I have discovered sci-fi the way I did, or at all? Without reading These Broken Stars I wouldn’t have read The Illuminae Files, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, or any of the sci-fi books I’ve read and loved since before I started blogging.
I don’t think it’s wrong to judge books on their covers because when it comes down to it do we really judge books by their covers? May at Forever and Everly wrote a post on the difference between judging books by their cover and liking pretty covers that answers that question way better than I ever could.
Yes, I brought Ink and the Starbound series because of how pretty the covers were, but when it came to rating and reviewing the series it was the stories themselves that I thought about, not how pretty the covers were.
The thing is, browsing books by their covers on Amazon and Waterstones is fine, but I do wonder how much I’m potentially missing out on simply because the covers weren’t enough to catch my eye. This is where blogging has ended up helping. When I see a gushing five-star review from a blogger whose opinion I trust I immediately add said book to my to-read list. I discovered P.S. I Like You from Jill, The Last Magician and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue from Lilly, and the whole of the contemporary genre from Marie.
These are all books I loved, books I rated highly, but the main reason I picked them up was because of the reviews. If not for them who knows how long these books would have been sat on my TBR list (a very very long time knowing me).
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is another example of this. When I first came across the book on WordPress it was the US cover I saw and I wasn’t a fan, also at that time the blurb didn’t really interest me either. It was only when I saw the UK cover, and an incredible written, five-star review from Aentee, that I started to get excited for its release, and again Nevernight was a book that ended up being a five-star read for me too.
Like there are amazing books where the cover hasn’t grabbed me there have likewise been really bad books where the cover has grabbed me. Just as reviews can work to make me pick up books were the cover hasn’t caught my eye they could work the other way around too, and make me put down books where the cover has caught my eye if the reviews are poor.
I’m a very visual person, there are always going to be books on my bookshelves and TBR list that I discovered because they have gorgeous covers, but I don’t judge the books on those covers. I judge them on their blurbs, on the amazing reviews I read from fellow bloggers. All I use the covers for is to guide me when I’m in a bookstore, because let’s face it no one has the time to read every single blurb of every single book in the YA section.
I’m not sure what to call it, cover influencing? Cover guiding?
Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:
Do you use covers to guide your choices while browsing on Amazon or wandering around Waterstones?
Have there been any books you picked up solely based on their covers, or are there any books you nearly missed out on because the covers didn’t grab your attention?
Or, alternately, do covers not make any impact on what books you decide to check out on Amazon or Waterstones? Are you the person who reads every blurb in the YA section of Waterstones?
Cover influencing, cover guiding, or a third better option you can think of?
Let me know in the comments below.