This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
The saying goes that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. It's what's on the inside that counts, right? Of course, when it comes to actual books, the cover is the first impression – the difference between you oozing charm and charisma that lures people over to talk to you or the sneeze in the drink and glass-shattering laugh that makes people run for the hills. The book cover is what makes you stop browsing in a bookshop and pick a book up.
So what happens when a book cover doesn't match what's on the inside? What happens when you pick up a book because it looks like – to use a slightly weird example – chocolate only to discover what's inside is actually cheese. There's nothing wrong (in my humble opinion) with either chocolate or cheese (I love me some mature cheddar!) but when you expect chocolate, that's what you expect!
This has been an enormous talking point – especially within the Women's Fiction genre which so often opts for bright colours – as many publishers have put female authors who write about women under the chick lit umbrella when they simply are not. Jodi Picoult and Sophie Kinsella are two of the most popular female authors of recent years but if you were a fan of one that wouldn't necessarily mean you were a fan of the other. One writes brilliantly witty humour while the other deals with taboo subjects like rape and terminal illness. Imagine picking up a Kinsella-esque cover and discovering a Picoult-esque book hidden within. You'd be annoyed. Not because it was bad but because it wasn't what you signed up for.
Flip it the other way and imagine what would happen if male authors were redesigned with more 'girly' appropriate covers. Imagine a more girly cover for Stephen King's Carrie, with a teenage girl on the front, worried about her periods and fitting in. It's technically true but it isn't an accurate portrayal of the feel of the book.
Still unconvinced at the importance of covers? Check out these three for the infamous The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It's hard to believe these are all for the same book.
How important is a book cover in your reading choices? As ever, let us know in the comments below.