‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ It’s an old refrain, reminding us not to make snap judgements based on appearances. And yet, like so many of these proverbs, it doesn’t actually make much sense when taken literally.
I do judge books by their covers, and I don’t think that makes me shallow or shameful. I know that sometimes a cover may not accurately reflect the book’s content (Polly Courtney, for instance, quite publicly dumped HarperCollins for the covers and titles the publisher chose for her novels), but by and large it’s in publishers’ best interests for the cover to reflect the content, because that means that buyers are more likely to be happy with their purchase, and therefore more likely to recommend the book to others or buy more from that author.
I find myself drawn to covers like the ones in this post (these are, in fact, all books on my TBR that originally caught my attention due to their visually stunning covers), because they generally indicate a fantasy setting, which you know I adore. I tend not to avoid books because of the cover, but covers that don’t stand out, or that suggest a different kind of story (for instance covers using stock photos of people in contemporary clothing and settings), don’t draw me in; whether or not I read those books depends largely on recommendation, because my eyes tend to pass over them on the shelf or screen.
Indeed, I consider it a disservice to the artist and designer to say you don’t judge a book by its cover, because that is exactly what they put so much effort and skill into encouraging you to do. Their job is to catch your eye with the cover so you take an interest in the book. To ignore that is to erase the important role they play in getting books to readers.
And besides, it’s just fun to look at the pretty covers, isn’t it? ^_^