Ex-Libris cover

Book Covers: You’re The Expert

From iheartmonster’s recent “You’re The Expert” feature:

Have you ever…
–judged a book by its cover?
–misjudged a book by its cover?
–passed over a book solely because the cover didn’t look interesting?
–bought a book because of its cover?
–been drawn to a book because of its cover?
–seen a book whose cover has nothing to do with the story?
–spotted a cover from across the store and picked up a book you wouldn’t have if you wouldn’t have spotted that cover?
–hated the font of the book title?
A resounding YES to all of the questions!
Just as we judge people by their looks, we judge books by their covers. I think one reason is that there are simply too many of them out there! We must have some way of eliminating a portion of them before we make decisions. Haven’t you ever felt overwhelmed in a bookstore? Instant attention-deficit for me, and that’s usually after having entered for a specific reason…
I’ve read that authors sometimes have little control over the cover design of their own books. Knowing how I feel about covers, I think I would include a “cover-control” clause in my contract before signing with a publisher. Sounds good, anyway.
Since I also like old books, most of which do not have a sleeve and are simply bound in cloth, the cover question is doubly interesting. Obviously, these covers have little to do with my decisions; everything rests on the contents. Why, then, do I pay attention to covers of new book?
I tend to look for specific genres, which helps a great deal when facing the fiction section, for instance, since I’m interested in historical fiction more than contemporary. Covers with “antique” or “vintage” looks will definitely catch my eye, and fine art, rich colors and old-fashioned typefaces are always a draw.
I am definitely drawn to certain publishers and imprints, as well. Penguin’s distinctive spine on trade paperbacks is a definite attraction because I’ve enjoyed so many of them before.


Example: “Ex-Libris” by Ross King; cover design by Terry Alan Rohrbach
Ex-Libris cover



In the mystery genre, Berkley Prime Crime covers seem to do well at representing the content.
Example: “Her Royal Spyness” by Rhys Bowen; cover art by Laurence Whitley; cover design by Rita Frangie
Her Royal Spyness cover


Del Rey does the same for fantasies.
Example: “His Majesty’s Dragon” by Naomi Novik; cover art by Dominic Harman
His Majesty's Dragon cover


I used to like TOR for the same reason, but they remind me more and more of the romance covers these days, using models for the heroes and generic backgrounds.
Because I would rather have paperbacks, this obviously limits my selection, but let’s hope the designers spend as much time on the Trade Paperbacks as they do on the hardcover sleeves.

© Jan McClintock of We Need More Shelves

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1 thought on “Book Covers: You’re The Expert”

  1. I Heart Monster

    OMG. What a great post :o) Thanks for linking back to me and for great answers to the questions!

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