Books,  Reading

Are Book Covers Really That Important?

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. 😛


  • Michelle Athy

    I agree that covers are important as a marketing tool, but I can’t say I’ve ever picked up a book or not picked up a book because of the cover. I don’t think I’m a very visual person, so while covers that are eye-catching are great for marketing, it’s very rarely affected the things I read or not.

    I get hooked by the blurb or by an author being interviewed talking about their book a lot.

    • Krystal Jane

      I’m pretty bad about reading blurbs all the way through. I read the first couple of sentences and usually skim the rest. >.< But word of mouth is huge. I’ll definitely pick up a book that I might would have normally overlooked after hearing someone talk about it. I love mini reviews on YouTube.

  • Elizabeth Jay

    Yes! Of course it matters. I still need to like the description but I click on the book because of the cover. I agree that it’s subjective and depends on how I heard about the book. If it’s a podcast, obviously I can’t see it so all those other factors are more important. And everything is less important to me if I already love the author, but it’s still important in general for everyone new to that author. I personally think title is also very important because I have not picked up a book because I didn’t like the title. Please tell me I’m not alone! It’s funny what’s important to people but there are a lot of options out there. I have to narrow it down somehow.

    • Krystal Jane

      I don’t know if I’ve ever passed on a book because of the title! Lol! I’ve checked out books because I liked the title, and I got rid of a book I got for free once because I didn’t like the title, but I’ve never considered how much that plays into purchasing decisions. I’m positive you’re not alone though.

  • Tonja Drecker

    Lol! ‘Boring’ Contemporary? (That sounds like me). But yep, of course the cover matters. It’s like the first time I ordered a bowl of refried beans in front of my kids. Living in Germany, they never ever saw a bowl of refried beans. They looked at it and claimed it appeared like…well, your imagination will take you there…and then, couldn’t believe I’d like something so disgusting looking. But when they tried…and put it in a burrito form, they were hooked. Appearances make all the difference. Plus, I love me a lovely book cover!

    • Krystal Jane

      Lol! “Appearances make all the difference” – I love that! And it’s a great analogy with the refried beans. Lol! I felt that way when I started making lasagna. It always tasted good, but those early batches looked a mess. 😀 I, too, love surrounding myself with awesome covers. ^_^

  • Thea Landen

    They matter, but only in that an absolutely TERRIBLE cover will put me off reading a book. (I hate to say it, but I will: this mostly applies to self-pubbed books.)

    These days, most of the books on my to-read list are recommendations, so while I might notice an exceptionally nice cover, it’s probably not going to be a deciding factor in whether or not I read something. Some books I’ve loved had very plain (yet still professional-looking!) covers.

    • Krystal Jane

      I will indeed pass on a book with a terrible cover. I don’t run into that just too often, but I did recently go out of my way to get the UK cover for a book I wanted to read. The US cover isn’t ugly at all, I just don’t like it. >.< A lot of plain covers are also really good covers. Recommendations are also good. I think most of the books I pick up are recommendations or word of mouth. Of course I only care because the cover isn’t terrible.

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