A Book is More than Just Its Cover Art

To my readers: I am a hypocrite.

I must confess, a lot of the time, I do judge a book by its cover. In the literal sense, not the proverbial sense. I don’t mean to, but I feel like it’s something a lot of us do, and perhaps don’t even realise we do it.

My genre of choice is Young Adult, and YA covers can, unfortunately, be a bit hit and miss sometimes…

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Now, there’s nothing wrong with awkward close ups of girls and guys who are meant to represent the protagonist of the story. I’m not saying these people are ugly or off-putting or that there’s even anything wrong about putting them on the front covers. But the fact is – these covers do not make me want to buy these books. Throne of Glass is meant to be about a badass female assassin, the deadliest in the land, who’s strong and fearless and deadly – and that is just not conveyed through that cover art. If I saw that on the shelf, I would put it down before I’d even read the blurb. I KNOW. That’s a bad, bad, bad, bad, monumentally bad thing to do. Especially since many of these series have gone on to become bestsellers. Paper Towns has even been made in to a movie. This means what lies within the pages must be at least halfway decent, right?

I also know that these are old covers and many have since been redesigned, but the content inside definitely has not changed along with them. The story was the same before the redesign, and yet, I am more inclined to read these novels in this newer packaging…

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Then there have been other times, when I’ve come across covers that are beautiful, and the content inside has matched. For example…

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The artwork for all of Cassandra Clare’s novels (all by illustrator Cliff Neilsen) is amazing, in my opinion, and the recently-revealed cover art for Lady Midnight certainly measures up to the standards set by its predecessors.

Then there are these…

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And yes, I might be (slightly) biased because these are some of my favourite books, but there’s no denying that these covers are beautiful! The simplicity and beauty of Red Queen especially drew me to it when I first saw it on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, leading me to find my new favourite book.

The important thing to take away from this, and from my experiences, is that it’s not what’s on the outside of a book that matters, but what’s on the inside. The cover of a book does not always reflect the content inside. Some covers are beautiful, and the stories inside are dreadful. Other covers are terrible, while the stories inside are fantastic.

You can’t know the quality of a story unless you pick up the book and actually read it for yourself.

Never judge a book on its cover alone.

EM

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2 Comments

  1. I am a total hypocrite, too. I have also always professed the importance of judging a book by AT LEAST its blurb. My new hardback copy of Uprooted by Naomi Novik arrived today and I almost died over how beautiful it is and I’m going to treasure it forever.

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    1. I think, as humans, maybe it’s simply in our nature to like pretty things! I do try so hard not to just judge a book based on its cover, I usually read the blurb and then thumb through a few pages to see if I like how it reads. But, in saying that, I’m never going to pick up a book that has, let’s say, a giant cockroach on the front because I am HORRIFIED of them, even if the blurb says the cockroach is a metaphor for something else and that book actually turns out to be the greatest book ever written. I’ll just never know, because I’m too busy judging that book by its cover art, try as I might not to.

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