Book Titles, Necessary?

Alternative title: In Which I Attempt To Make A Coherent Discussion Regarding Book Covers

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Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about titles. Be it the title of a book, part of a book, or chapter, titles are, arguably, important. They exist to subtly reveal information regarding the content and thus intrigue the reader.

All that is well and good, but does the title of a book actually matter? 

Over the last week or so I’ve done a bit of thinking, reflection, and observation about this question, primarily of my own habits in regards to book-picking but also of those around me. 

I’ve noticed that the first thing that attracts me, and many others, to a book is the cover art—the colours, fonts and images used to represent the story. Personally, it’s only once I’ve actually picked up a book that I’ll go ahead and read the title. The title, however, is a deciding factor in whether or not I’ll actually read said book.

Another thing I found is that even if I like the cover art of a book, if the title doesn’t appeal to me, I won’t even bother to read the blurb. 

I do, however, wonder, what it would be like to find a title-less book—would it matter? How would I react? Have I been trained to judge a book by both the cover and title or just the cover? What about plain books? Those only have their titles and I pick them up just fine. Maybe cover art isn’t as important as it’s made out to be.

But that can’t be it.

These days there appears to be a great emphasis put on a book’s ability to double as room decor—the more visually appealing the cover is, the better—that didn’t exist a century (or even a few decades) ago.

Then again there’s also a lot more content which means more competition. It’s not as though there are only several authors in print and one must read their work; there are dozens of authors and books out there and they’re all there wanting, waiting, to be read. 

I’ve tentatively come to the conclusion that the two, the cover art and title of a book, exist in a symbiotic relationship wherein one cannot exist without the other, but I’d love to hear your thoughts—titles, are they important?

Thanks for reading,

Janna

Photo from the lovely Patrik Göthe.

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19 thoughts on “Book Titles, Necessary?

  1. Saulus Sedai (@SaulusSedai) says:

    Titles are definitely important, but I don’t think they are more important than covers. As you know, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A title only gives you a few words to tell a potential reader about the book, and many titles merely provide clues, but a cover can give an entire synopsis. And as you say above, cover art draws your eye first – as it does mine, which makes sense as our eyes are drawn to color.

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    • jannakaixer says:

      I totally agree. It’s weird to think they once were incredibly important though – when books were all leather-bound treasures. True – I hadn’t thought of covers covering the synopsis of the book but you’re so right, they also set the mood and tone of the stories. Although our eyes are drawn to colour, and we’ve all learned to manipulate this, what would happen if all books were printed in the same way? Same cover, same size and so on. Will the titles step in then, and take the place of the cover art? Or is cover art so integral, especially these days, that we can’t go without?

      Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!

      Janna

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  2. KasimsKorner says:

    Personally speaking I think a titles definitely important, you have to make sure it’s unique otherwise you run into problems with your book being buried by a more successful one. I’ve followed – I’m a fellow writer myself who writes short stories. I’m working on a novel right now, and would love to hear some feedback on my stories 🙂 Thanks anyways, and keep writing 🙂

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    • jannakaixer says:

      True – and the less common and more outlandish it is, the easier it may stick into potential readers’ minds and as such draw your book from the blackhole of recently published media. Thank you! And you keep writing too!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Janna

      Liked by 1 person

      • jannakaixer says:

        It’s a pretty good title but I think it’s one that’s slightly overused. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but ‘Ramblings of _____’ is a title many people use for their blogs, tumblrs and so on. Whilst it may reveal, and stage, the short stories within the collection, it doesn’t make it ‘pop’ so much as something else might. Perhaps do some more brainstorming, see what you come up with, and if nothing else fits it’s still a perfectly valid and good title for a collection to have! In regards to the cover, I love the font of your name and the starry background but then when it comes to the actual title of the collection, you’ve reverted to another, more basic, font – why is that? It makes the cover look a little disjointed – did you try making the title the same font as your name?

        I hope I helped and sorry if it sounded harsh!

        Janna

        Liked by 1 person

      • KasimsKorner says:

        Trying to locate where the harshness was haha. Purely constructive criticism. Very true about the Ramblings of part, but as a medical student (which takes up a huuuge part of your life) I feel that it really has shaped me as a person, so I wanted to give it a subtle nod in a collection type thing, but I’ll definitely brainstorm other titles. In response to the Title fonts, I tried to do both the same, but it just looked horrible in comparison, while this gave me a very professional look imo. I’ll probably make a few more covers and then decide on a final one, probably asking my followers to help me choose between a few 🙂 Thanks for all the feedback, it’s appreciated a lot. Especially coming from a fellow writer 🙂

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      • jannakaixer says:

        I’m glad! I’m not used to giving feedback and worry tonnes about whether or not it’s constructive or just mean. Lately I’ve met a lot of medical students here at university, and, the ones here at least, all seem to be part of this mysterious collective force of exhausted and extremely hard-working students. The ones here all stick together too, and so on – what about having something like ‘I’m a Medical Student’ or something similar as it pretty much sets the scene for what’s to come. In regards to the fonts thing, I’ve an inkling that may have been due to the mountain range down the bottom – it might look different if it’s all starry. Also, what’s the significance of the stars? Is it supposed to represent neurones?

        No worries!

        Liked by 1 person

      • KasimsKorner says:

        The picture is mainly due to my love of space tbh, I’m writing a few space-themed short stories that’ll appear on it. Yeah medical students are quite an enclosed group, but tbh I lovr going out of my way to talk to other students, who I don’t meet unless I go out somewhere etc. Hahahaha that title just sounds pretentious tbh, it’s not so much the fact I am one, but how being one has affected my life and therefore my writing. Also, I find it adds a little bit of intrigue, because medical students are seen as quite ‘mysterious’ and ‘aloof’ so getting inside the head of one would appeal to a reader? Great feedback btw, I hope I can somehow convince you to stick around :$

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      • jannakaixer says:

        Oh awesome – that makes more sense now! That’ll be quite cool too! I’ve noticed, especially since I’ve lived with a bunch. It’s great that you go out of your way to meet others – not many do which is terrible in my opinion. No worries – it was just an idea. What about something along those lines then? Something that reveals that you want to explore the effects of medical study. Hmm… Personally I see medical students as route-learners who are very hands-on, struggle with things regarding imagination and have little time to do much other than study but this is a massive generalisation on my part. I guess they are, in a way, mysterious to me which does create some intrigue. Thank you! I’m sure you’ll manage – I’m not hard to convince, I’m just very nit-picky.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KasimsKorner says:

        Is it wrong for me to say I’m enjoying playing on that misconception? It’s very common, which is why I believe a fictional short story collection by a ‘medical student’ would seem almost an oxymoron, if that makes sense? I love nit-picky, it’s people like you who make the best critiques for a writer, but your kind are hard to come by 🙂

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  3. xiaohuamaobiji says:

    Cover art is what attracts me most, secondly I would glance at the title and equally important I would read the synopsis at the back of the cover, which is a deciding factor on whether I would buy the book.

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    • jannakaixer says:

      I’m much the same – cover art first, then title, then blurb and if they all match up the book is coming home with me. It just seemed to me that this was very much a learned process – I know many people who pick up books purely on their appearance or on the title (I’m guilty of the latter) and wondered whether or not these titles that take forever to create, actually matter in the big picture.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Janna

      Liked by 1 person

      • xiaohuamaobiji says:

        I guess title does matter, it leaves a lasting impression about the book. Imagine you have a beautiful cover plus an interesting title and a captivating blurb (thanks to you I learned a new word today!), that’s the perfect combination ain’t it?

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  4. phoenixgrey85 says:

    I hadn’t consciously given this much thought before, but I think I’m attracted to a book by its title, at least sometimes. Title and cover art. If the title sounds interesting, and the cover’s good, I’ll pick it up. I think that the title and over work together to give you an impression of what genre the books is, and what the book’s about. To me, titles and covers are just as important as each other.

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    • jannakaixer says:

      Thank you for the lovely comment! I actually noticed today, when I was in the library, that I tended to only be attracted to cover art first if the book is facing me – if I can only see the spine, I’m drawn to the title and then, as you said, if the cover art also appeals, I’ll read the book.

      Janna

      Liked by 1 person

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