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.
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?