Book covers – a topic that can keep writers and readers debating for hours. What is a good book cover? Is it a cover that simply looks enticing? Is it one that shows what the book will be about or perhaps one that raises questions and draws the reader in? Or is it simply something that looks good on the shelf or coffee table?
My answer? All of the above. Is that easy to achieve? Oh boy, certainly not.
And yet, some covers do seem to manage it. Have you ever seen a book cover and known that you had to read that book or maybe even that you had to own that book? I know I have.
Granted, you aren’t meant to judge a book by its cover, but until you read the blurb, how else are you supposed to know what book to pick in the endless ocean of reading material? How would you know where to start? Sure, you can just keep reading the newest releases from your favourite author, pick whatever book wins the Man Booker Prize or just read whatever your spouse has just finished. But won’t that get a bit dull in the long run? When it comes to trying something new or even passing a bookshops window – don’t you look twice at a gorgeous cover?
Now, a good book cover isn’t the be-all and end-all. There are awful books out there that have stunning covers that they haven’t earned, just as there are great stories encased in awful covers. There is also the risk of you being drawn in by a cover and realising that it’s a genre you don’t like (I have that problem with certain horror books, I love the covers but I don’t want to read them on account of being what we in the book trade call Scaredy-cats.)
Is there a one size fits all formula for what a great book cover is, then? No, not if you take into account that little thing called personal taste. I’ve seen friends look at book covers I have found garish and sigh happily (and I’ve reminded myself not to judge. As we say in Sweden, taste is like a bum – split. Sorry to be crude but that is an actual saying.)
However, as I often have discussions with people about book covers I dislike, I wanted to be positive today and instead raise up some of the book covers I have really loved. You’ll find them in a neat package below this paragraph. As you’ll be able to tell, I like different styles but generally I want them to be classy, intriguing, show the book’s genre/theme and stand up to years of being stared at as they decorate my shelves in between re-readings.
Of my examples, there is only one book I haven’t read yet, mainly because I wasn’t sure about the genre, but its cover has still landed it squarely on my To-Be-Read list, proving that an enticing cover can really sell a book. Or maybe it has just proven that I’m a shallow reader who is a sucker for a pretty cover?