Is it truly possible to judge a book by its cover? I recently came to the realization, while browsing my own home library, that I may be a book cover snob. Superficial as I know this sounds, I simply can’t get into a book that comes in a lousy package. So many wonderful books lie unread on my shelves because they 1) feature the dreaded movie tie-in cover 2) feature some lame picture of a model-posing-as-the-main-character (always cheap and disappointing, no matter how good the book is), or 3) feature a cover that is just plain lazy or uninspired . Conversely, I can be inspired to pick up a book I may not normally read, simply because the cover is intriguing. (Note: the cover at the beginning of this post fits in its own special category of so visually awful that it’s wonderful—a category reserved for truly unique bad cover art.)
So what, then, makes for good book cover design? Generally speaking, a good cover is nice to look at, and probably incredibly hard to design. It should catch the reader’s eye, and convey the idea behind the book in on one simple, abbreviated glance—but it shouldn’t give any of the book’s secrets away, or provide overly concrete visual information. (This is why I hate photographs of real people on book covers—it does not allow the reader to imagine what the character looks like, and distracts from the overall reading process.) An ideal book cover should be unique and interesting, and appropriate for the overall mood of the story contained inside—and if it’s pretty and shiny, all the better!
Some nifty new and replacement fiction covers that recently came into the First Floor Department:
For more inspiring cover reads check out The Book Cover Archive.
PS – What are some of your favorite books covers?