May 06

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Meredith is a book cover savant (or so she thinks. ) She professes to be able to determine the genre, readability and entertainment value of a book, as well as offering suggestions for similar authors, merely with a single glance at its cover.

While I’m not quite as switched on as Meredith (in oh, so many ways), I do find myself generalising from the covers. Soft focus images in pastels? Maeve Binchy wannabe immediately springs to mind. Period costume close-up from neck to waist? Phillipa Gregory type historical romance.

I get particularly annoyed when a cover leads me astray. A bold cover with a caricature of young urban professional (in killer heels, of course) implies chick lit, not meaning of life stuff. blank-cover

Are there any cover styles that put you off? I read Tully by Paullina Simons many years ago and didn’t like it at all. Now I tend to avoid covers with close ups of a woman’s face positioned so that you can only see half of it. Now that I write that description out, maybe I just avoid them because that really does sound rather creepy.

How swayed are you by the cover design? Are you a book cover savant like Meredith? Are there cover styles you particularly avoid or can’t resist? What books have you read where you felt the cover misled you? Comment below and share your cover traumas and triumphs with us.

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  1. Natalie Green

    Like wine bottles, the covers of books are what draws me in and sometimes, determines a purchase decision – even though I’m completely aware that looks can be misleading!

  2. Susan

    Here’s your chicklit cover guide (from the meistro herself 🙂 )

    Comic/Cartoon, bright colours, metallic writing = funny/girl-next-door type stuff – think Marion Keys.

    Out of focus woman = darker themes/erotic/sensual

    Watercolour/cursive lettering/windows with flowers = aga saga/Cathy Kelly/English countryside

    city skyline = career gal/works in fashion or advertising/most often NYC

    bodice or period dress = historical fic/dress gives timeframe/raunchy sex scenes but you can pretend it’s genteel

    white with black andwhite or muted tones = Tearjerker. Character close to heroine will die tragically young or dealing with aftermath of death, illness in family.

  3. Michelle

    I am TERRIBLE at judging a book by it’s cover and at times have been woo’d by a cover only to be bitterly disappointed with the story… more often it is the other way though and a cover that does nothing for me has provided a tale I loved. It is very weird, as I have been proven to be quite a good judge of character in people I have only met once or twice.
    (I think I read Tully years ago? From memory I found it quite powerful and disturbing, perhaps through knowing people battling serious depression… the relentless suicide attempts were frustrating and hard to understand being someone of sound mind.)

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