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Judging books by their covers

This is a book I bought purely because the cover reminded me of a favourite statue in Central Park in New York - loved the book and bought the sequel.

This is a book I bought purely because the cover reminded me of a favourite statue in Central Park in New York – loved the book and bought the sequel.

According to ancient wisdom – we’re not supposed to… but we do it all the time.

Book lovers will stick with a favourite author and just buy everything they write (hence the groaning noises coming from my bookshelves). But what about finding new authors – people we have never read before?

Personal recommendations count for a lot – but without a recommendation, I think it’s down to the covers.

Whether I’m in a book shop or online, a great cover will make me at least pause long enough to check out the book blurb. At that point – I am on the road to buying the book. A good blurb will have me reaching for my credit card.

So – I thought I would post some book covers I really like – and maybe a few I don’t.

It seems strange to think there was once a time when I had not read Terry Pratchett. Now he’s on my automatic buy list and I’ve visited the discworld many, many times.

For me – the Josh Kirby covers are wonderful. Before I’d read a single word of that first book – the cover had already taken me into the world. I even have a framed, signed poster of one of the covers in my house.

These covers capture the Discworld so well - I was a little annoyed when the publisher decided to give the books different covers.

These covers capture the Discworld so well – I was a little annoyed when the publisher decided to give the books different covers.

The Twilight books are the sort of thing you either love or you hate – but I don’t think anyone can doubt the impact of those covers. I thought they were great… particularly the first one. Obviously the publishers thought so too… there are many copycat covers on the YA shelves.

These covers were real attention grabbers when first released - but now there are so many similar designs, they don't stand out quite so well.

These covers were real attention grabbers when first released – but now there are so many similar designs, they don’t stand out quite so well.

Even more controversial – Fifty Shades. I confess I haven’t read the books. I started, but they were not to my taste. The covers, however, were very striking… and again that style has been copied many many times on similar books.

A brilliant cover design - which no doubt added to the book's amazing  success.

A brilliant cover design – which no doubt added to the book’s amazing success.

I am not a fan of covers that show the faces of the hero and heroine. If that picture is not how I see them in my mind – then my enjoyment of the book is lessened.

These are no bad books - I read these authors - but these are not the people I see in my head as I read.

These are not bad books – I read these authors – but these are not the people I see in my head as I read.

YA covers are great. Do publishers put more effort into those than others? I don’t know, but it seems to me a lot of YA covers are far more interesting than a lot of adult covers. Here are some that really caught my eye.

Y.A. novels - especially fantasy - are an exception to my 'no faces' rule - especially when they are as beautiful as these.

Y.A. novels – and fantasy – are an exception to my ‘no faces’ rule – especially when they are as beautiful as these.

Bu contrast – the modern UK romance cover really doesn’t do it for me. There is a sameness about them. No book seems to stand out – and I’m always looking for the stand-out books.

I have read and really enjoyed each of these books. They were standout books - but I don't think the covers don't stand out. Each cover is fine - but there are too many that are too similar.

I have read and really enjoyed each of these authors. They write standout books – but I don’t think the covers stand out. Each cover is fine by itself – but there are too many on the bookshelves that are too similar.

Also deserving of better covers – the amazing Robyn Carr. Love her books – but the covers leave me cold.

Robyn Carrs' books are wonderful - full of emotion. But I find her covers to be cold and lacking emotion.

Robyn Carrs’ books are wonderful – full of emotion. But I find her covers to be cold and lacking emotion.

Finally – and I guess this comes under the heading of shameless promotion – I love the covers done by Choc Lit – my own publisher. It was one of the things that attracted me to them. The covers fit the genres – but don’t conform to the stereotypes. I love both the covers they have done for me. Here are a few of my favourites among the other Choc Lit titles.

There are so many lovely Choc L:it covers that I could have included here. These are some that really captured my imagination the first time I saw them. Having read the most of the books - I think they embody the stories really well.

There are so many lovely Choc L:it covers that I could have included here. These are some that really captured my imagination the first time I saw them. Having read the most of the books – I think they embody the stories really well.

 

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10 Responses to Judging books by their covers

  • Unlike you, I hated Terry Pratchett’s covers – ugly and turbulent with nasty colours. I didn’t read his first two because of them, I now realise. Now I accept that it’s the books’ uniform and seize them eagerly as a result. But they still make me feel slightly car sick if I actually stare at them for too long.

    By contrast. The Twilight covers were beautiful and sinister in a sort of Jacobean revenge play style – much more attractive to me than the content, I fear, so now it’s a uniform I avoid.

    Apart from that, I share your taste – especially the YA books you cite. Some gorgeous imagery coming off them.

    • It’s interesting that you love Pratchett despite the disliking the covers – and the reverse for Twilight. I guess it really does just show that we shouldn’t judge a book……..
      Covers are such a personal thing too. I love to play around with images and design covers for my books. I do it whenever I am having trouble with what I am writing. Designing the cover always gives me the inspiration to move on. Of course, no-one ever sees them and they are no-where near as good as the ones Choc Lit design for me, but it’s fun. 🙂

  • I’ve never read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (I know, shock, horror!), but I have read some of his young adult novels. Maybe one day I’ll go away to a cottage in the mountains and bring the whole of Discworld with me 🙂 Have to agree about the covers for the Twilight and the Fifty Shades series – the covers are extremely powerful. Loved both Ruth Long’s and Marie-Louise Jensen’s covers, and have both novels on my book shelves. Have not read Robyn Carr, although I’ve heard very good things, and mainly it’s the covers which have been putting me off. I find them quite passionless.

    One of my absolute favourite covers is an edition of the Lord of the Rings with gorgeous watercolours by the illustrator Alan Lee. They are so evocative and defining that the film-makers actually used him as a consultant on the film sets!

    Also, agree with you about Choc Lit – they do some amazing covers. Thanks for including 2 of mine among your favourites. I feel very honoured.
    Hx

    • The Alan Lee covers are good. I had a leather bound special edition copy of LotR – black leather with silver inlay of the gates of Moria. There were also rice paper maps and colour illustrations. It was beautiful. It was lost during one of my moves. I was devastated… I have a new copy, of course, but it’s not the same. 🙂

  • I like your selection of Choc Lit covers. The Elephant Girl and The Road Back are two of my favourites too.

    The Discworld covers are interesting. I love the overall look of the Josh Kirby covers, but don’t like them so much when I look at them more closely. The depictions of the individual characters isn’t right in relation to how I picture them, but the overall impact of the covers is fantastic.

    I agree with you about a lot of modern UK romance covers too. Not horrible, but just a bit bland.

    • I have a picture of the Librarian (don’t call him a monkey!!) surrounded by books hanging on my wall. He is exactly as I picture him – as is the Library. Not surprisingly, its my favourite place in the discworld.

  • It’s always interesting to read people’s thoughts on cover designs. It illustrates the difficulty of the job, because everyone likes something different, or sees something different in the cover.

    I really never liked the Discworld covers for example, but I love Terry Pratchett. I think the style of illustration looks terribly dated now – but they work because Pratchett’s readers know it’s a Discworld book.
    I do like the Twilight series covers – although not the books themselves – I think these are the US images which were used by the UK publisher. I know Twilight had a completely different cover here originally (I was working for the publisher at the time – and no I didn’t design it!) But the UK design didn’t work and the book didn’t sell. Was it the first film coming out that escalated the sales? Almost certainly, but the US covers definitely helped.
    I have to agree about the chick lit covers too, wishy washy and, as Alison says, bland. Not the designers’ fault, I suspect they were told to follow a style. Happens all the time in-house.
    Sorry – you got me on one of my favourite subjects . . . I’ll go away now . . .

    • Don’t go away Berni – always happy to have you here 🙂
      I didn’t realise the Twilight books had different covers here… I googled and found some translations with different covers. What was the original cover like?
      I don’t blame the designers for the covers – I guess they have to follow the publisher’s/house style. But I have to wonder why they don’t let designers spread their wings a little. That’s when the magic happens. J X

  • Like Jenny, I don’t like the Discworld covers. I don’t like the content of Terry Pratchett’s books, either. They’re not the sort of thing I like to read, although I recognise that he’s a very talented writer.

    I love my Choc Lit covers, and I’m so glad that you have included the striking cover for The Road Back. Thank you.

    You could have included the Flight to Coorah Creek cover, as that is another excellent one!

    Liz xx

    • Gosh Liz – you may well be about the only friend I have who doesn’t like Terry Pratchett. But that’s OK – we can still be friends 🙂
      I do find in fascinating how much people’s taste differs on both books and their covers.
      I love both my Choc Lit covers – the cover for Flight To Coorah creek really embodies what the story is all about. The cover for Bring Me Sunshine is such fun – I love the penguins. J X

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