Judging a Book By Its Cover

I had a brief conversation with my mom this week where I was bemoaning the inability to find a title that fit the project I was working on that day. I had a lovely word map, but every combination I came up with sounded too generic, but less common synonyms of these words have slightly different connotations, so nothing felt right.

Anyway, in the middle of this conversation, my mom said something about trying to make it something different so it would stand out on a bookshelf and people would pick it up instead of glance over it.

Half joking, half serious, I replied, “I pick up a book because of the cover art.”

But it got me thinking, how do we decide which books to take home with us, and which to leave on the shelf?

Obviously, the blurb on the book jacket and quick skim of the pages to see if the plot is interesting and the writing good is what ultimately makes the decision, but what makes us even want to peek at the blurb in the first place?

Personally, a title might grab my attention if it is unusual or has striking imagery, but what really makes me want to flip a book open and read it’s jacket usually has to do with the cover art. For instance, if the design is dated (say, 1970s era) I will not pick it up, regardless of title. I tend to be drawn to covers that are more artistic and abstract, with lots of dark colors, or use the stark contrast of whatever bold color design on a white or black background. A good title will help catch my attention with these covers, but I’m probably going to read the book jacket regardless.

What about any of you out there? What catches your attention faster: a good title or a good cover? And what makes a title or cover eye-catching to you?

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