Sunday 8 February 2015

Judge a book by its cover

"Don't judge a book by its cover"

I couldn't even begin to tell you how many times I have been told that, but I actually think that in relation to physical books, it is an outdated concept. Of course, a book doesnt have to be beautifully designed with a catchy title for it to be good, and equally an amazing title and beautiful artwork doesn't ensure greatness. But I can't deny that the appearance of a book is playing more of a role than I care to admit.

Books are everywhere, book shops, charity shops, online. There are thousands upon thousands at our disposal and my own collection is a minuscule dent into what is a seemingly never-ending supply. Sometimes I walk into a book shop and I am so overwhelmed with what I see that I really don't know where to start. So, ashamedly, I start with the front cover. Yes, I judge a book by its cover. But unless a book has been recommended to me or has been surrounded by hype, it is hard to decide which book out of the mass of unknown, is worth my money.

A catchy title is important, it should be relatively short and snappy, so that it rolls off the tongue and is memorable. The cover doesn't necessarily have to be bright or colourful but it needs to stand out. Then I always look to the blurb, a short passage which doesn't give too much away but gives a tiny insight into what the book offers, I dislike it when the back cover is just quotes from reviews, I like to know a little bit about what I'm letting myself in for. Equally I do like to see some quotations from good reviews, I know that they will be completely biased but I tend to look at the credibility of the publication they have been taken from.

Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events

What is so brilliant about the design of A Series of Unfortunate Events is that by giving the series itself an all encompassing name, Snicket was able to give each individual book a quirky and brilliant title whilst still keeping them under one umbrella name. Back when I was buying the books they were hard backs with a bound spine and lovely thick paper that was slightly jagged at the edges, it added character to the book and I also liked the uniformity of the series. Each cover has a beautifully drawn image that sums up the story line of the book and it is almost framed in the centre as a glimpse into the world you are about to enter. I really appreciated the time and thought that went into the creation of the physical book and there was something about it that meant I couldn't just stop at one, not only did I want to finish the story but I also wanted to complete my collection.

Susan Cain: Quiet

I don't really know how well known this book is, I don't see it get spoken about a lot and I suppose that is because if has quite a niche market. It discusses the value of introverts and the success they can achieve despite this preconceived view that they are akward and shy. The books brilliance comes from its simplicity. The title is sharp and short and brilliantly sums up the book in a matter of fact way. You almost can't help but whisper it. The cover is all white and has a shine to it, with the title raised slightly from the page. From a distance it seems to be nothing more than a blank page which is actually quite successful in drawing you in. It is a front cover that matches the words within and it is very effective


F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

As far as I am concerned, The Great Gatsby has always had very successful covers, ranging from the simplicity of the Penguin covers to the iconic blue cover that I have always associated with the book. The title is brilliant and draws you in and because it is so well known the designers have pretty much had creative freedom in regard to the cover as the title speaks volumes. Yes I fell prey to the beauty that is what you see above. I am not ashamed.

Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden

This cover really stood out to me, the drawings are lovely and the hard back is a cloth cover which makes it feel a bit more special. The pictures within are also beautiful and it all helps add to the magic of The Secret Garden

Judy Chicurel: If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go

Right, so my problem here is the length of the title, I don't think that it is necessary and I can't imagine why there was the need for it to be so long. Maybe if the book had been amazing I could have forgiven it, but it wasn't and to this day it still bugs me that the title was allowed through the editing process. For me a shorter title is often more effective as it is easy to remember and simply rolls off the tongue so much better.

Here are another two books which I think have beautiful covers and I would be lying if I said that their covers didn't play a role in my decision to buy them.

Let me know in the comments how much the cover of a book effects your decision to buy it!


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