Judging a book by its cover

We’re all taught not to do it. And yet we all do. Judging a book by its cover. It’s like choosing a partner based on their appearance, or cookies based on their packaging. Even though most of us realize that a beautiful cover does not necessarily imply a good story, our brains cannot help but fall for it. It is so easy just to look at the surface of people, products and books. Marketing is for a big part based on the appearance of a product, rather than the actual product itself. With an alluring design, the product sells itself. That’s why publishers and authors try their best to make the most wonderful covers. Even for e-books, which don’t have a physical cover at all!

I have to admit, I fully engage in this kind of behavior as well. Books on Goodreads without a cover don’t even attract my attention. And in book reviews on other blogs, I almost solely decide whether to read the review based on the picture that goes with it. Maybe it’s something innate of humans, being predominantly visual creatures.

But being a scientist, I would like to do a test. I am going to show you some of the covers of books that I have recently read. Then I’ll rate both the cover and the book, and we’ll see if beautiful books indeed have beautiful stories. To be more fair, I included only the first book a series, to avoid comparable covers (and ratings). And I used the cover of the version of the book that I’ve read, so sometimes that will be a Dutch one.

First thing that comes to mind is that I’m generally more pleased with the covers than with the actual content of the books. The average score of the covers is four stars. Now I think of it, this can also be seen as evidence that I really do pick books based on their cover. That’s why I chose to read them in the first place. Unfortunately for me, the average score of the books themselves is 3.4 stars, meaning that picking these beautiful books does not necessarily guarantee an equally positive reading experience.

In future blogs, I’ll elaborate on my attempts to stop judging books by their cover and I’ll venture on the world wide web to discover the most beautiful covers ever.

Are you judging your books by their cover? How is that working out for you?


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