Why book covers ultimately decide the future of the books they represent

The old saying is “never judge a book by it’s cover” and this is great for everything except for books. Well sometimes books but mainly life lessons such as not judging a person by their appearance.

The fact of the matter is that when we walk into a book store, whether that be a Waterstones, a Barnes & Noble, an independent book store or even a charity shop, the first thing you are going to be looking at is the front covers. There could be an argument there to say that obviously you would be looking at the covers but I mean this in a ‘which book am I going to add to my unending tbr today?’ way.

Book covers generally look very nice or at least are made to look intriguing to capture your attention, sell some aspects of the story and to make it stand out against the hundreds or thousands of other books it is up against. Take for example this ‘gift’ cover of the Northern Lights book by Philip Pullman. *chefs kiss*

‘gift cover’

Now for example, let’s compare this gift cover to a different cover of the same book.

Standard cover

As you can see, the first cover has more appeal to it. It could be because of the art style, the covers or the giant Polar Bear on the front but the cover is what makes the difference here. This means that the first book would outsell the second book despite the fact that they are the exact same story, just a different cover.

If we went into a bookstore and suddenly weren’t attracted by covers then I think it would come down to the name of the book before it came down to the blurb. You see the colours of the cover, you read the title and author and then you pick the book up to read the back of it. It’s like this:

The cover gets your attention, the name of the book is the pitch and the blurb is like the handshake and when you don’t put that book down after reading the blurb, that’s you shaking the metaphorical hand of the book.

Just for further proof, tell me what you would do if you went into a store and all the books were black. No cover designs, just the same font with the blurb on the rear. You would have to pick up every single book, read the title and then possibly shake the hand of the book if you liked the blurb. The covers are the defining factor here. Of course we have blurbs, recommendations printed on the book from rival authors but the cover is the variable.

We shouldn’t judge books by their covers but we do. We are a visual mammal. We watch television, we like art, we use colours on everything, fashion is huge and even our food has food colourings to attract us. We’ve even gone as far as giving dog’s toys colours even though dogs can’t see in colour. Yes that’s right, that cute blue ball you chose at the store, it was blue for YOU not the damn dog.

If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!

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