Reader Spotlight: Guest post by @SarahRHatch

DO Judge a Book by its Cover by Sarah Robinson-Hatch

Have you ever bought a book simply because it looked beautiful? Have you ever been put off reading a book because it didn't have an appealing cover? I certainly have. But what makes a cover worthy of buying the book without even knowing anything about the narrative? Why do some of the best books have the ugliest covers? And here’s the question we all want to know the answer to: Why are publishers still using human faces on the front of books?

Gorgeous covers, like beauty, is all in the eye of the beholder. What I find attractive might not interest you, and a cover you might adore might be one that I feel pretty meh about. And I even think that our tastes in covers develops and changes, much like how our change in books can shift. I used to love covers with lots of colours and heaps of detail, but now I seem to gravitate towards the ones that are a little more simple, like We Are the Ants and Radio Silence.

What I love about these covers is how subtle they are, but I also adore the colours used, contrasting the white font. I’m no artist, but the colours in the sky in both covers is so appealing to me. But another type of cover that I’ve been seeing recently, and that I really like, is people who have been drawn. Thank goodness most publishers and cover designers are realising that having faces on covers, like with Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, isn’t attractive at all. As well as having silhouettes of people on covers, drawn people, like the girl on the front of the American version of The Hate U Give, is another example of a type of cover I love.

But let’s implement my love of these covers and discover what I’ve bought just because of the pretty cover, shall we? As I’m notorious for not reading blurbs, I feel that being susceptible to gorgeous covers is even more of a risk to my bank account. For example, We Are the Ants was totally a cover buy for me. I mean, I’d heard a couple of my friends had enjoyed it, but that beautiful cover really sealed the deal. How could I say no to having that book on my shelf?

And then there’s books that I buy because of their gorgeous cover and never get around to reading. For example, Infinity Glass. I had no idea what these books were about, but I had to buy them because they looked good, right? Never mind avo on toast and $6 lattes, buying books is the reason why I’ll never be able to afford a house to put them in. It’s not my fault I care more about stocking my library than actually acquiring the space to have a library.

There are also books that just haven't picked up yet because I’m not a fan of their covers. I’m sure they’re brilliant books, but if the cover isn’t something I’m proud of on my shelf, then what’s the point? Oh yeah, the content. I wasn’t ever a fan of the UK and Australian cover of Radio Silence, and the American one hadn’t come out when I first heard about this book. I knew that a lot of people really loved it, but the reason why I was so late to that party was because I didn’t like the face on the cover and the colours were off-putting. Thankfully, I was able to overcome that problem, and now Radio Silence is one of my all-time favourite books. *Insert some cliched, vaguely inspirational quote about not buying books for their covers*.

But then we enter a whole different dimension when we’re talking about hardback novels that have art inside the dust jacket or on the book itself. It’s time to talk about what books like like naked. If you buy a lot of books, something you’ll probably have considered is what the book looks like under the dust jacket. Is it plain, or is there some art on it, or something embellished? And what does the spine look like? Although these questions aren’t vital to the beauty of the cover itself, it’s undeniably an important factor in deciding to get the paperback or the hardcover. I’m a sucker for hardcover books with art indented on the front.

Something that confuses me about the way the world works is why book covers change from country to country. Also, I want to know how wifi works, but that’s a question for another time. It’s strange seeing the different covers of foreign editions of books. How does each country decide what covers will entice the market? Why are these covers often so drastically differently? Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers to these questions, but if you know, I’d be interested in hearing why!

So what covers do you find appealing? Have your tastes in covers changed over the years? What’s the worst book cover you’ve seen? Do you know why covers change from country to country! I’d love to know! In the meantime, I’ll just be sitting here, petting all of my beautiful books.

Sarah Robinson-Hatch is a student who, when not dwelling in fantasy worlds or outer space, resides in Melbourne.

Sarah has won a number of writing awards and hopes to one day have a novel published. Her favourite things to write about are teenagers saving the human race during world-ending cataclysms and death scenes, both of which probably freak her out more than any potential readers.

When she’s not writing, she can be found trying to wrangle fifteen novels onto a bookstore counter, thinking of how she can best make readers cry, or fangirling to the point of hyperventilating over fan-art, movie trailers and authors favouriting her Tweets. She's also probably frantically planning the next event for The YA Room — a Melbourne YA book club which she co-hosts.

Sarah thinks every type of weather is reading weather and refuses to leave the house without two books in her bag — just in case she finishes the first one. You can find her on Twitter @SarahRHatch or on her blog, Written Word Worlds.

1 comment

  1. Ohmygosh, you don't like covers with faces too? I thought that was me thing -- please tell me that's not a me thing! I find them so distracting and somewhat off-putting depending on the face/design.


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