Book Cover Designs, Necessary?

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I have a board on Pinterest entitled ‘Book Covers’, a fairly uncreative name but an accurate one. On that board I collect images of book covers I love the look of, barely paying attention to the actual books under the covers, or so I’ve recently found.

I like to think of book covers as clothes for books.

It doesn’t matter what you wear – it’s what’s on the inside that counts, your very person, your character. You can fool people into thinking you’re something you’re not but you can’t change what you are.

Book covers are very similar, you can dress up a classic (see Pride and Prejudice below) but you can’t take away it’s arguably dull (Pride and Prejudice is not a favourite) writing.

Despite the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ I feel we unconsciously (and sometimes consciously too) gravitate towards the books that are pleasing to our eyes thus judging them by their covers.

This occurs especially, or so I like to think, when one buys a book—you’re committing to a book in a way when you buy it, you’re investing in it, you want to enjoy looking it as much as you (hopefully) enjoy reading it so it needs to look good.

I’m not saying you should pick (or judge) a book by its cover, but a good cover does help. There are plenty of books with amazing covers that are terrible and vice versa.

The cover (or the spine depending on the positioning) is the first thing you see when you look at a book and as such it needs to catch your eye, draw you in so you pick it up off of the shelf and look into it.

It was probably simpler when books didn’t have unique covers, before the  turn of the twentieth century wherein the ‘Arts and Crafts’ and ‘Art Nouveau’ movements began the ‘book cover trend’, so to speak.

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Nowadays, covers are vital to the success of a book, they give clues to, not only the story, but the genre and the greater themes that underlie the plot. Book covers are (very often, if not almost always) a case of ‘the more you look, the more you see’.

But, again, it’s all subjective, what one person likes another may hate.

What do you think? Should books have unique covers? 

Janna

Photos by Pietro Bellini and  Rémi Mathis

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10 thoughts on “Book Cover Designs, Necessary?

  1. Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer says:

    Yes — absolutely yes. The cover of a book can sometimes be the biggest selling point of one, so I think it would be a little foolish for publishers to stop designing unique / attractive covers. Especially in Young Adult. I’m not quite sure an Adult audience is quite as picky, but I find myself judging a book by its cover all the time! Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • jannakaixer says:

      That’s why I ask whether it’s necessary – because the cover of the book plays such a crucial role in its success. At this stage it would most definitely be foolish to stop designing attractive covers, but I wonder what it would be like if we weren’t drawn to books based on their looks.

      Young Adult, Children’s books and Picture books definitely need attractive designs to attract readers, how else would they do so? I reckon Adult books could get away with similar covers, it could help readers read outside of their usual genres and not feel as though others are judging what they’re reading as they can’t tell (from a distance at least). I do find some covers off-putting in the sense that I’d rather not be seen reading them.

      Thank you and thanks for commenting!

      Janna

      Like

  2. FabioRosado says:

    Yes, the cover is one of the most important aspects of a book,
    It’s with the cover that you catch the potential reader’s eye and the summary at the back of the book is what closes the deal and makes someone take that book home.

    Every day I get at least 6 or 7 ebook recommendations for my kindle, most of them are free and if the cover doesn’t look appealing I don’t even read about the book and skip to the next one.

    I think the “Don’t judge a book by its cover” only applies if you are a well renown author already and your name is powerful enough to make readers buy your book.

    Plus, you might get crazy people like who, who buy a more expense version of the book just because of the nice hardcover 😀
    Your idea for a board about book covers is brilliant, I need to follow you and repin somethings :p

    Liked by 1 person

    • jannakaixer says:

      I love the way you put it; ‘it’s with the cover that you catch the potential reader’s eye and the summary at the back of the book is what closes the deal and makes someone take that book home’. You’re absolutely right in that, I merely wonder what it would be like if it was not so – if we had to take the time to peer into each individual books to choose one (or go by word of mouth).

      I do that too but on GoodReads where, though there aren’t any free books, there are plenty of suggestions, and I get a handful of them every day. Like you it’s only if the cover catches my eye and appeals to me that I look at what the book’s about, if I don’t like the look of it I’ll skip it, which feels dreadful in retrospect – one of those books could have been fantastic but because of their covers I won’t even consider them.

      Even if you’re a well renown author I reckon you need a good cover, it makes all the difference! I have a couple of favourite authors whose work I adore and want hard copies of and it may just be that I’m picky, but I’ll make sure to select, what I deem to be, the ‘pretty’ covers. I’m also one of those crazy people who buys a more expensive version of the book because of the nice hardcover… In my defence hardcover books are fantastic!

      Thank you! I must update it soon, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it!

      Thank you for the comment!

      Janna

      Like

  3. dragonflylady77 says:

    I will pick a book of a shelf if the cover grabs me.

    I bought The Other Daugther by Lisa Gardner BECAUSE of the cover (I do like crime novels in general but the cover of that particular book is what made me buy this one instead of another). But my copy of the book has gone missing and I can’t, for the life of me, find that particular cover when I look for the book. Thanks for nothing, Google!

    I have 2 copies of P&P (lol) one is from 1960something and I don’t like over much but it was $2 so I had to get it. The other one (the first one I bought) has the actors from the BBC series on the cover. I do love me some Colin Firth.

    I worked with Bree Guildford to find cover art for her short stories on Smashwords. It is trickier than one thinks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jannakaixer says:

      I’m much the same!

      I hope you find your book soon! Google, unfortunately, isn’t the best at tracking book covers. Originally I wanted another version of the Pride and Prejudice cover, one I have at home (I had to get it for school) but I could find it anywhere.

      It’s very hard to get a good cover! I did a graphics design course over summer last year and even the simpler tasks (making a poster) proved very challenging!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Janna

      Liked by 1 person

  4. AbsentElemental says:

    I’m with you when it comes to book covers. Their importance comes more from the marketing aspect of the cover, as well as its attempts to help draw in a reader. But like you said, a book cover is nothing more than window dressing.

    I have a book (not the one you’re reading) that I’m in the process of either self-publishing or trying to find a publisher for. I’ve already lined up a cover artist to create a cover for me. While I love her artwork, I really wish that I didn’t have to contact her at all for this endeavor. The cover shouldn’t mean anything for a book. It’s too bad, however, that a cover means a significant amount to a book’s popularity and sales.

    Like

    • jannakaixer says:

      That’s exciting! Both having a book ready and a cover artist for it! I know what you mean, it’s not right that the success of a book falls on its presentation (i.e. the cover). Good luck with it all though!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Janna

      Like

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