Books and Judging Them by Their Covers


Photo Credit: Bigger Pockets

The title of this post was my attempt to differentiate myself from every other person who has already written about judging books by their covers. I don’t think my title is very catchy. But eh. That’s okay. Let’s get on topic.

No matter what you say or what anyone else says, we’ve all judged books by their covers. Every person who has ever walked into a bookstore without knowing what they’d walk out with has done this. Now I’m not saying that every book you or I purchase has been because of its cover, but I’m sure there are a few on your shelf that you bought simply because you thought it looked pretty. That’s okay. I’m sure I’ve done it. But there have probably been dozens more that you chose not to buy because you thought the cover was a turn off. I have to say that I’ve also done this. But why? Let me tell you what I think.

You walk into the store and move toward your favorite section. You immediately find a few of your favorite authors but soon realize that you have all of the books on the shelves. Then you start walking up and down the aisle. You find a handful of books that you’re considering taking home with you.Then you find a nice place on the floor or one of those big comfy chairs and read all of their blurbs and titles and check out the covers.You’ve never read any of the authors and you don’t want your buying decision to be made based solely on the book blurbs. There’s just not enough there. You don’t know if the books are in a series or anything about the writing styles of any of these authors. You’re going back and forth between every book trying to come up with valid reasons for each. But then, you glance at your watch or phone and realize that you have five minutes before you need to be back in your car to make that doctor’s or lunch appointment. It all comes down to the covers now. You lay them all out and make a pick, and probably take an additional one for good measure. The others are quickly replaced on the shelf and out the door you go.

At least this is what I’ve done whenever I’ve gone to the bookstore to find something new.

But browsing for me is not walking up and down the mystery aisles at the store. Browsing is now randomly searching for the next books in just about every series I’m reading. I don’t look at the covers or the blurbs or anything but the price. I’ll eventually have to buy them all if I intend to continue the series, but usually the cheapest will win. Makes no difference what the book is about because I already know I enjoy the series and the author and the stories I’ve read.

Whenever I do decide to find something new the process is much the same. I’m sure you know that Amazon has Top 100 bestseller lists for everything in books. I’ll usually go to the Mystery, Thriller, Suspense or Private Investigator lists and go to the end of the list. I don’t want to see the super high bestsellers that have just been released, but the books that are selling well even though they’ve likely been out for years. But that’s not very often I have to do this because I have so many series I’m always wanting to continue.

So the point of this post is to acknowledge that I’ve absolutely judged a number of books by their covers, but probably not as much as you have. Tell me how come you do it whenever you do.

47 thoughts on “Books and Judging Them by Their Covers

  1. I’ve done it. Judging by the cover happened for me exactly as you described it in your post. And I’ve also judged a book by its genre. I told my daughter she shouldn’t read Dean Koontz. I’d never read one of his books, but I was sure because it was a genre I thought was not good, it must be bad. One day I was with her at her doctor’s office. While she was in the office, I had nothing to do. Her Dean Koontz book was sitting there. Ah ha! Let me see what she is reading, I thought! I couldn’t put the book down. I read the whole thing and read several more of his books.


  2. I learned my lesson on judging a book by it’s cover. I will still pick up a book with a pretty cover in a heart beat. I also take the title into consideration. But, I waited until everyone was talking about Hunger Games before I read the book. I kept looking right past the book in the store because I didn’t think the cover looked all that interesting. When I finally read it I was so annoyed with my self for not giving it a chance sooner.

    Usually when I go into a bookstore looking for anything I have my phone with me. I will look up every book that I find interesting to see if it’s part of a series.


  3. I think everyone is guilty of this. I prefer something with a bright, bold, professional cover. But if the title is catchy and the plot sounds interesting, I will give it a try, regardless of whether the cover is weird or boring. Heck, one of my favorite books has the lamest cover ever.


  4. I know I’m guilty of this, mostly because I cannot stand books with cheesy or cliche covers. Blech! Boring covers don’t turn me off as much simply because I read a lot of old books with old covers. Most of those covers are weird looking or have no cover art at all. Just one solid color.
    But I know I can be Judgey McJudgington with cover art. But I can’t pinpoint what exactly throws me off. I like brightly colored covers, but I also like the dark, mysterious, ominous covers, too. So it’s really a toss-up.
    I try to read the back covers or a few pages before I make a snap judgment. That’s usually why I can spend at least an hour or two in a book store and only come out with one or two books! Ha!


  5. Been too busy to reply in the mornings. Ahh! Okay, so covers. First off, I never browse bookstores to buy books. Partly because I do not have a bookstore where I live, and second, the cost! I use the library. But in hunting for library books, Covers are always attractive, but never the final vote on a book. The frontispiece is always what determines whether or not I will read a book. I love book covers that are smashingly pretty, but they are not the end all decision. In fact, I will just take pictures of covers just because I like it with no plan to ever read the book. And I do prefer good covers for books I do plan to own. Which is why it has taken me several years to finally find a good set of Jane Austen books.


  6. I admit, I feel sheepish when I pick up a book that is obviously chick lit. I don’t want to be seen walking around with it, and I’ll feel I have to buy a more “serious” book, to go along with it, especially when checking out with an egghead-looking cashier at Barnes and Noble.


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