Do you judge a book by its cover?

We all know how the old saying goes. Never judge a book by its cover. A piece of advice that can be applied to so many aspects of life. But when it comes to the phrase’s original meaning, just how important is the cover of a book?

A digital update

It’s no news that the options for how we purchase and read our literature have been given a contemporary update thanks to the digital revolution. Like music, we can buy a book online, download it instantly and read the entire thing on the screen of an e-reader during our commute home from work.

And like music, where we barely give much thought now to an album’s artwork or the ‘sleeve’ we once enjoyed pawing through while we read along to the lyrics in our heads (or maybe that was just me?), a book’s cover has begun to appear less and less relevant. Or has it?

Looks matter

I for one am still sure to check out the artwork or design of a novel’s front cover, despite whether I’ve been recommended it or not. Would it change my mind about reading the book altogether? Probably not. But if I’m looking through a bookstore, either on or offline, it could help persuade me whether or not to check out a book I haven’t heard of or been recommended.

Shallow? Perhaps. Irrelevant? Well, when it comes down to it: yes. Of course we all know the most important aspect of a book is its content. So if I picked up a book with a dull cover but the most exciting blurb I’d read in a long time, it would obviously be a no-brainer whether I decided to read it or not.

But I happen to think as authors, we all have a responsibility to put just as much thought into the design, look and feel of our book covers and campaign artwork, as we do the book’s storyline. After all, a full book project covers everything from deciding how your main character talks and walks, to how you’re going to promote the book and what your target audience is into.

In my opinion, the importance of design, like in most other businesses, is as vital to your book as getting from the opening to the final line. Don’t let your believable characters, exciting settings and well thought-out plot be let down by a shoddily designed book cover. Doesn’t your story deserve more?

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