The impact of book covers on reading choices
The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t typically refer to books at all. It is a reminder to avoid jumping to conclusions about what someone or something is like based solely on what you see on the exterior. While this is wise advice, today I want to talk about judging books by their cover in a more literal sense.
Does the design on the cover of a book influence what you choose to read? Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, I am willing to bet it does
In some cases, the outside face of a book is irrelevant. If I choose a book based on previous reading experience with the author or a recommendation from a friend or interest piqued by a review, the cover plays almost no factor in my choice. However, when browsing through a book store or a library, what is on the cover has a huge influence on whether I pick the book up or pass it by.
The design of the cover often suggests genre. Romance covers show embracing couples, sultry heroines, or handsome men with brooding eyes. Mythical creatures suggest a fantasy novel. Blue-grey scenery partially obscured by fog or mist evokes a sense of the supernatural. Blood dripping from a knife suggests mystery or horror.
Beyond genre, good book cover design reflects the tone and content of the book itself. The colours used, the font, and the tone of the drawing, be it whimsical, eerie, or sombre, combine to give us a hint into the nature of the book as much as whatever object or person is portrayed on the cover. When we pick up a book, enticed by its cover, we have an expectation about the nature of the contents before turning a page.
How does book design affect your reading choices? Do you have a favourite book cover?