It’s one of the oldest sayings: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Does anyone even know where that originates? I don’t and right now I’m too lazy to even google it.
But here’s the thing, I DO judge books by their covers, and I would venture to say that 99% of readers do as well, if only subconsciously. It’s not that I’ll necessarily buy a book if I love the cover, but certainly I will pass on a cover that turns me off.
When I see a book with a girl with heaving bosoms, half-dressed and perhaps in the arms of some mysterious man behind a curtain…hot stuff but not for me. Also, I’m a fantasy fan, but I don’t like those covers that have comic-style characters, i.e. women in full spandex, men with muscles that can only be attained through steroids, or some glowing weapon or amulet. I think my brother likes them, I just have a hard time taking it seriously.
I assume that marketing departments know these things and design their covers to appeal to the readership they are aiming for, but have you ever read a book where you felt like they got the cover totally wrong? I’ve heard those horror stories, where authors are mortified by their book cover (and if you didn’t know, authors rarely have any say when it comes to covers, unless they’re self-publishing.)
One time I went to a signing of a very popular author, who shall remain nameless, suffice it to say I very much admire this author’s work. The guy in front of me pulled out one of said-author’s books that had the comic-style cover design which I described above, the kind of book I would immediately gloss over, and the author said, “I hate that cover.”
So I wonder how many great books I’ve passed up merely because the girl on the cover was showing a little too much cleavage for my taste. Maybe there were some really great literary merits in those heaving breasts.
Do you judge books by cover? What attracts you and what turns you off?