Does it ever make sense to judge a book by its cover?

Binding Judgment
Does it ever make sense to judge a book by its cover — literally or metaphorically? Tell us about a time you did, and whether that was a good decision or not.

Like a lot of bibliophiles out there I have browsed and bought many books. As the source of our book buying, for many of us, has moved from bookshops to online I think a lot more of us have judged books by their covers than we admit to. Certainly in the early years of online Amazon purchases I have been caught out and bought books that I really did not enjoy but had very alluring covers. However, Amazon has worked hard to give us a look inside option for books we are browsing and the download a sample option for Kindle, so there should be no handicap buying books online from them. Other independent online retailers of print books do not offer the same and it is with these retailers that I have bought books that were just not me but had very alluring covers.

With the dawn of Indie publishing we have many, many more books at our fingertips and it is hard choosing from them. The ones with the flashier covers theoretically get more takers than those with no cover or computer generated amateurish covers. These covers are misleading in my opinion of content and I personally still believe that the description and first few pages are more informative of the content than the cover, but who has the time? Advertising has programmed us to go with what we see and find attractive.

Like anything else there is a marketplace for authors to buy covers for their books from artists/designers who design them. Independent authors are no dummies when it comes to marketing and they know a strong cover will draw readers. All covers are concentrated advertising to persuade you to purchase the book as well as allegedly giving you a hint of what the book is about.

Metaphorically speaking I think all of us do judge people on their appearance. The media, television and film has always championed the more aesthetically pleasing and as a result we are programmed from childhood to seek out beautiful people. We make assumptions about someone with tattoos or piercings and race. I don’t think these judgements are accurate most of the time and certainly there has been negative feedback on bright applicants at job interviews with piercings and tattoos. I think it’s important to know when I am judging someone and take a minute to reflect about my judgement and suspend it while I get to know the person. It’s what I do with books and it’s something to be mindful of when meeting people.

I think in this day and age of self publishing never has it made less sense to judge books by their covers. I think a cover is no indication of the quality of writing inside a book and as more of us don’t have physical books that we put on pretty shelves the writing is much more important than the cover. However, the truth of the matter is the cover is what attracts us to find out more about the book. If there is no cover, most of us wouldn’t read the book description let alone buy the book both literally or metaphorically.



  1. I work in a academic library and we buy hardbacks and remover the paper cover and the books all become rather plain. I like this as it means I have to search our collection more and don’t just pick things up because they look good.


  2. I know it’s really hard not too especially when we live in a world that is so visual inviting and everything is sold to us by looks but books always surprise me and thats what is the great thing about them

    Laura x


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