Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

February 4, 2010

Isn’t that one of the oldest adages? Meaning, of course, don’t make up your mind about something based on what you see on the outside. I wholeheartedly agree with the principal and in most cases, such as with people, I do my best to adhere to it.

But y’all, I totally judge books by their covers. I just can’t help it; I’m drawn in by a pretty design. Although I mostly buy books based on recommendations and reviews, occasionally I find myself wandering Barnes & Noble ready to make a random purchase. Those are the times I am susceptible.

The thing is, I know the cover doesn’t mean anything about the quality of the book. Here are a few of my absolute favorites, for example:


Ender’s Game. Okay, this cover is completely outdated and screams “geek” when in reality, I think it is palatable even for those who aren’t into sci-fi like I am. I’ve had several friends verify that assertion.


A Prayer For Owen Meany. There’s nothing special going on here. In fact, it’s quite boring, and completely opposite of the genius that lies inside.


Rebecca. This looks like a sappy romance novel, something I would normally stay far, far away from.

Do you have any examples of your own? A deceptively bad or good cover, or one that is right on? How do you feel about book covers?

Posted in: books & reading

Comments on Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

  1. 1

    From Scott:

    One thing you didn’t mention was how great a good cover can feel. You know the one’s that have a slightly matted texture to them? Those are great.

    Also, here’s my favorite awful Ender’s Game cover

  2. 2

    From dstagg:

    Are you sure that Rebecca book isn’t just a Danielle Steel novel with a pseudonym?

  3. 3

    From Krista:

    I do the same thing with books! I also judge wine by the label :)

  4. 4

    From S.:

    Good call on the Owen Meany. I always thought that was a particularly terrible cover.

    You should also do a post of great book covers with lackluster insides. I felt this way about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

  5. 5

    From Emily Jane:

    I think the author has zero say in the cover design of their book, or at least I remember hearing that somewhere. It’d make me so mad if I got published and ended up with a crappy cover!!

  6. 6

    From Michele:

    Okay, on the flip side I thought that original cover of Everything is Illuminated was clever… and quite funny. Totally with you on the Rebecca cover – one of my all-time favorite books, but HORRID cover. Oh, and Scott’s Ender’s Game cover was FAR worse!!

  7. 7

    From Erin:

    First off, I LOVE all of those books.

    Second…I first read Rebecca as part of a summer reading list in high school. When I bought the book, I remember being confused as to why my all-girls Catholic school was assigning us a trashy romance novel to read!

  8. 8

    From mediumcrazy:

    Ha, excellent cover picks. Are these old editions?? The Ender’s Game and Rebecca covers seem particularly outdated. The Owen Meany cover always reminded me of a tombstone.

    The only time a cover really bothers me is if the book was made into a movie and the cover image is a picture of the actors in the movie version. I won’t buy the version of the book that has images from the movie on the cover. (Book snob thing.)

  9. 9

    From kapachino:

    I’m the same way with the movie version of books.

    I never thought of the Owen Meany cover as looking like a tombstone, but now that you mention it I’m sure that’s what they were going for. It looks like granite and there is a whole theme of death and tombstones in the book. I still think the cover is bad, but I have a new appreciation for it now.

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