Before I get started, let me clarify that yes, book covers are important. It’s often the first run-in sighted people will have with a book. If a cover is bad, the content doesn’t matter. It’s the book cover’s job to be alluring and fabulous, to draw us in. Sometimes into a pit. But often into a new world filled with adventure!
Anywho, I was watching a bookish video or fifty one day, and the Booktuber I was watching kept talking about how beautiful a book cover was, then she said, “I know it doesn’t matter, but isn’t this so pretty?” Then someone in the comments of this or another video (because who can keep track) said, “It doesn’t matter what the book looks like.”
And I repeat: Yes, it does.
Books are a package deal. I have gone out of my way to buy a prettier version of a book that I already wanted to read! And I’m not the only person who does this. And yes, I had to go out of my way. It was that or not buy the book. I’m serious. I disliked the other cover that much.
Here’s the thing. Most books are not life changing. Most books are largely entertainment. They’re great for your brain, of course, but it’s entertainment. If I don’t read a book, I’m really not missing out on anything life changing. It’s just an adventure I’m not going on, and in the book world, not only are there several similar adventure experiences, there are a TON of adventures to be had!
The book cover’s job is to make you pick their adventure over all the other adventures. Of course, we can go on multiple adventures, but we can’t go on ten at the same time without severely diluting the experience. So, how do you know what book to pick up?
The cover makes you pick it up. And sometimes the title. Something has to catch your eye. Otherwise you’re going to keep it moving.
Exceptions to this are when you hear someone talking about a book. Several times I’ve been talking about a book or movie to someone at work, and a customer will eavesdrop on the convo and ask what we’re talking about, because it sounds so interesting!
In those cases, the cover matters less, but how much less is going to vary from person to person.
Covers are also subjective. I’ve had people gush over covers that I thought looked like crap. Those adventures aren’t for me. Doesn’t mean they actually suck. They just suck to me.
Which brings me to the cover’s second most important job: to convey what kind of adventure lies inside.
Sci-fi? Fantasy? Western?
Boring Contemporary? Romance? Historical Romance? Fantasy Romance? Thriller? Mystery? DRAGONS?!
People have different tastes. Some people want a lot of sci-fi adventures. It’s the book covers job to communicate that. Otherwise, why would you consider it? Who’s going to pick up a book with a plain blue cover that says STORY on the front?
Oh, someone will. But definitely less someones.
I was going to say, who’s going to pick up an all black cover with just a shiny star embossed on the front, but I would pick that up for sure. I think a lot of people would. That sounds really intriguing actually. That works better in person probably though.
Do you disagree? Want to fight me on this? Bring it. 😛