Blog module icon

Displaying all posts tagged with:

'judging a book by its cover'

Jul 30

Titles and Covers by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2021 at 1:21 PM by Genesis Gaule

How important is the title and cover of a book? The title is first seen as part of the cover. How much does that cover influence the reader? Who makes the decision about how that will look. Is it the author or publisher?

Remember, the old adage of not judging a book by its cover? In the explanation of that English idiom, the word ‘alone’ is often added. So go ahead and take a good look at the cover and let that help decide if a deeper look will follow. It won’t be the only factor, but it does influence our choices.

That sounds so easy, but there is a huge amount of time, talent and thought that goes into a cover design. The author has lived inside the book for months, maybe years and knows the story inside and out and upside down. Publishers take a different approach by wanting a cover that will attract potential readers. An illustrator will add a creative talent that takes the words and puts flesh on them or creates an abstract concept of the story line. Publishers often win out though the more bestsellers an author creates, the more influence she’ll apply to the design.

Sometimes covers will change if books are reproduced. Publishers will want them to be more timely or if a movie has been produced then a still picture might be placed on the cover. Books considered classics may see many covers as different publishers take turns at reviving them, such as The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Cookbooks with colorful covers of food catch my attention every time such as The Elder Scrolls by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel. There are also books that I can’t take home because I find the covers too scary. 

Yes, I’m easily influenced by covers but what about titles?

Titles are influential also. Authors with their publishers will decide on a title. I have an author friend who agreed to change the title of her book when the publisher thought her choice wasn’t mysterious enough.

Too many titles are the same or so similar that readers get confused. I prefer titles that are more distinct like The Poppy War by R.F. Kuan (great cover) and Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitch Smith.

The individual words in a title can catch a reader’s attention. For me some favorites are tree, sand, herbs or seeds which is why I picked up The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson. The cover is a picture of beading which is beautiful. The book is about seeds and plants. After picking it up and looking at it, I found that it takes place close to home--a good find for me based on a cover and title!