The blog of author Harper Alexander

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You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

While this is wildly true, I have to admit that my reading experience is, in fact, affected by the cover.  This may be my own psychological glitch kind of thing (I would love to know if anyone else finds the same thing), but regardless; if I don’t like the cover, my reading experience suffers.

This may be shallow-minded of me, and may in fact completely wreck my credibility as a true reader/writer.  I feel as though others would be quick to insist that any true reader/writer can appreciate the soul of a book – that it’s all about the essence of the story and dragging the cover into it suggests maybe I’m more fitted to being one of those readers who buys books to put them on the shelf.

But there’s just something about the cover that sticks with me as part of the essence of the book.  It’s not as though it’s a face that someone couldn’t help being born with.  It’s not as though it’s a face that shouldn’t have anything to do with the inner beauty of the thing.  A book was not born with its cover.  The cover is supposed to reflect what’s inside the book.  It’s supposed to be created to draw people in to what’s in that book.  It’s supposed to do as much justice to the book as it can.

I’m the kind of person that loves to run her hands over the cover of a favorite book.  The cover is a cherished part of it, to me.  And if it’s not good – well, I’m not going to want to do that.

The cover does feel like part of the soul of the book to me.  When I read a book, the impression of the cover sticks with me even while my nose is stuck between the pages.  When I think about the book – what comes to mind?  The cover.  When I tell someone about it, what comes to mind?  The cover.  Whether it’s a good book or a bad book, the imprint created for reference in my mind is the cover.  What else are you going to picture when you reference a book?  The white pages?  The black ink?  Perhaps the font?  Maybe the way you pictured the character, or perhaps a place vividly described in the story.  But the fact remains (at least for me) that the cover is one of those things that comes to mind first.

My point being: I am here to confess that the cover of a book not only affects my reading experience, but influences whether or not I even read or buy a book.  It can have a stellar title, and the most gripping blurb on the back flap I’ve ever read – but if that cover doesn’t do it for me, I’m likely to put it back on the shelf and never even give it a chance.  Just because I know that cover will taint my impression.

This seems like a crime shame.  How many good stories am I missing out on?  But for me, at least, it can’t be helped.  Fortunately they seem to change book covers like clothes, these days, to reach a more diverse audience, and so there’s hope for some of these overlooked lovelies to be redeemed.

Am I the only book-lover who feels this way?  Is the only possible explanation that I am not, in fact, a ‘true’ book-lover, or that something traumatic must have happened to me in my childhood to leave me with such a bitter associative outlook?  Please tell me I’m not the only one!