Old Idioms

I have a confession to make:

I judge books by their covers

I can’t help it. Some art is just awful, while others are inspiring.

At times, I have purchased books solely based on the cover art. Going in blind, so to speak, about the synopsis, the hook, the genre of the work. Very rarely am I disappointed. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time my judgement has steered me wrong.

It’s not personal to the author. I’m just visual by nature.

If you can capture my interest in your art work you have me as a reader. It’s pretty simple. It doesn’t matter if the book is hot off the presses or a dusted, fabric bound edition tucked away on the shelves of some forgotten store.

John Halifax, Gentleman by Miss Mulock, 1856
(Pictured, 1906)

There are some covers which are so visually appealing it hurts to walk away from them. Such as Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant. I picked this book up in an airport just before a return flight in 2007. The dust jacket was stunning and piqued my interest immediately. Simply put: it sold itself. The story inside was, how do I put this delicately… intoxicatingly insane. As a writer my heart fills with envy whenever I think of Chuck’s work.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
New books come home with me when the cover is either a piece of art (like above), shows the character of the story (below), or is, at the very least, realistic. 


We all know what it is like to look back on movies from the early stages of CGI and wince at the obvious flawed reality of what was once mesmerizing work (see Lord of the Rings). A book cover that’s cheaply thrown together by less experienced hands is no different. It often leads to basic font choices (Papyrus), amateur Photoshop, and overall cringe-worthy design.

Books come with me nearly everywhere I go – in a busy life of work, writing, home remodel, and being a wife I have to take every opportunity that comes my way to read. This means I have to be seen in public with this book and all vanity rules dictate that just as my clothes are an extension of my personality, so too is the book in my hand. The imagery on the cover states to the world what my interests are and all the stereotypes that go with them. So I must choose wisely.

I will read any story worth my time in quality, but I will admit that if the cover looks like some kid in their mother’s basement threw it together I’m going to pass and the story will be lost to me. I see this poor workmanship more often in eBooks than any other modality. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s about quantity. With publishers popping out eBooks every hour it seems the art of the cover has been left to the wayside. The market has become over saturated with amazing pieces of work writers spent months compiling wrapped in a slipshod, repetitive themed digital blanket. I’ve even come across a “publisher” who offered the same cover art for multiple books!

I can’t be the only one out there committing such sacrilege against publishing houses and their authors. So tell me:

What about a book’s cover draws you in?

Posted by

Jaymee is the creative director and writing force behind Beaux Cooper Media. She loves to collaborate with other writers and journalists across the genres. Jaymee lives on the beautiful coast of Rhode Island with her cat, Ada, and dog, Bean.

4 thoughts on “Old Idioms

  1. I judge books by their covers depending on how I'm feeling in that moment while I'm shopping! For example, if I'm feeling sad or uninspired, if I see a book with bright or abstract art on the cover I am more likely to pick it up and buy it (than if I saw another type of book cover). For example, if I'm feeling sad or uninspired, if I see a book with bright or abstract art on the cover, I am more likely to pick it up and buy it. You are not alone, sister! I totally do this too ha ha

  2. I read Captain Bluebear. I had a big box of Crayolas and colored the illustrations as I read ;-)I just books by their covers too. If the cover is shoddy, I think there must not be much attention to the edits or storyline inside. Covers are first impressions for new readers.

  3. I'm happy to see another Walter Moers fan out there! He is, by far, my favorite modern author. I stalk his book releases like a junkie. I never thought to color his illustrations! Great idea!!If ever you read YA fiction, I highly recommend the Edge Chronicles collection. It has amazing artwork in it and the stories are fantastic! Flying Pirate ships and deep woods adventures! You can't go wrong for some fun, take-you-away-from-reality reading.

  4. I can get like that, too! If the cover makes my eyebrow raise in a way that \”shocks\” my current mood chances are I'll buy it! Curiosity is the marketing tool to end all marketing tools, in my humble opinion!

Leave a Reply to Cathy MiniCancel reply