Submitted by KittyLord0824 t3_110qqll in books

Personally, if my eye is caught by the cover, I check the synposis then I skip to a page about 1/4-1/3 of the way in and read it. I figure many authors will put a lot of attention into their first chapter, especially their first line, and I worry it won't give me a proper gauge of whether or not I'll actually enjoy the writing style for hundreds of pages. I think 1/4-1/3 of the way through the book is still early enough to avoid spoilers but far enough in where they author has shifted from "pull in the reader" to their true writing style.

So, what do you do? How do you decide if a book is coming home with you?



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WilliamMcCarty t1_j8ajin3 wrote

Let's be real, we all judge a book by its cover to some degree. It may be what draws us in initially or turns us off. if a book has an awful, cheap cover you got to think it reflects on the quality of the work inside. Just take a look at /r/TerribleBookCovers and you rarely see any quality works of literature over there. It's not always the case and sometimes you just get someone's weird idea of art or some design aspects that were trendy at the time of publication but generally speaking, cheap outside, cheap inside. Description, first few pages, random page reading, I give all a go and if it's good enough, despite a lacking cover, I'll give it a try.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8aojyw wrote

I love that sub. That's so funny.


WilliamMcCarty t1_j8arlbz wrote

It's like a "what not to do" for any self-published, indie authors.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8asl3e wrote

Lol at least I can say even the temp covers I've made for friends while they write were never that bad.


AbbyM1968 t1_j8b1pzo wrote

Agreed. It saved me from 50-shades & twilight grief. So, it works for me.


Moist_Professor5665 t1_j8b8yl3 wrote

Usually I'll see the author or the title before I notice the cover. I'm a little more merciful to shoddy covers of older books, than newer ones. Older books are usually just victims to the wide effects of being in the public domain, in my experience. Newer ones: We live in the age of graphic designers and photoshop. No excuse.


timesuck897 t1_j8bkss0 wrote

Does Powell’s still have the “Judge them by their awesome covers” section in the sci-fi/horror area? There was some great stuff there.


Bokbreath t1_j8ag32f wrote

I absolutely do judge a book by its cover, particularly if it's an unknown (to me) author.
Best example happened to me a long time ago. War against the Chtorr had a 30's pulp cover so for a long time I gave it a pass, thinking it was schlock. Turned out to be brilliant.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8aohnj wrote

Oh I've never even heard of that one! I'll have to look it up!


RebelAirDefense t1_j8an44g wrote

Being on the other end of the stick , I can tell you that the majority of folks do look first at the cover. My publisher re=covered one of my books with much better artwork and the online sales took a hefty bump. This is why I caution any self-pubber not to get cheap with their cover. If it looks like ameture hour on the outside, readers may make the same judgement about the inside as well.


licorneours t1_j8aif6f wrote

I look at the cover, the title and the summary. I often take a picture of both side if I'm not buying it right away (like already buying too much books or only went to the bookstore to buy one book/serie in particular)

Sometime I only look at the author if I know that I like their work(Rick Riordan)


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8aougo wrote

Sometimes the author is all you need!


licorneours t1_j8araso wrote

Yeah, but there is very few authors that I will buy/read a book just because there is their name on it. The only ones that comes to my mind are Rick Riordan and Agatha Christie, but for her, I would only buy her Hercule Poirot books for now, once I'll have them all or close too, I'll let myself buy other books of her.


Myshkin1981 t1_j8bci6y wrote

The only real rule I have as far as covers go is that I try to avoid movie tie-in covers if possible


kaysn t1_j8ah8at wrote

Ugly covers are harder sells for me when perusing books. Unless it’s an author I’m already familiar with. The cover has to catch my eye. I’m not going to bother even reading the premise of a book if the author didn’t take time to find a good cover artist.

I’ll give it a second look if it has been highly reviewed by people I know and have good buzz on the internet. Especially if it’s a genre I favor.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8aoo2n wrote

I totally hear that. I feel bad for authors who don't get to pick their cover because their publishers do it. Ah well.


[deleted] t1_j8ap4v4 wrote



KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8asv2w wrote

Absolutely. Signalling the genre with the cover style is no joke.


MrSpindles t1_j8b1dev wrote

I remember being struck by the cover of The Passage by Justin Cronin, a writer I'd never read and it was enough to get me to read the sleeve notes, which in turn was enough to encourage the purchase. It was a fantastic read, and I bought the 2 following books in the series (which were not so great).

It was that the cover reminded me strongly of the visual language of the covers of the 70s and 80s horror novels of James Herbert that led to me picking it up, it wasn't in fact anything much like any of his books (which I enjoyed in my youth) but I'm glad it caught my eye.


GrudaAplam t1_j8ajvao wrote

I don't judge a book by its cover. Typically I look at the title of the book and the name of the author.


sept_douleurs t1_j8al53d wrote

An appealing cover will make me more likely to pick up a book that's an unknown quantity to me—where I'm unfamiliar with the author and the book's reputation doesn't precede it—to then read the synopsis and see if it sounds interesting enough to go ahead and read. If I'm already familiar with the author or someone whose taste I vibe with has said their opinion of the book, that carries more weight than what the cover looks like.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8aozbd wrote

That makes sense! Even good authors have flop covers sometimes so if you already know the insides do NOT match the outsides, it's easier to forgive the bad cover.


Myythically t1_j8axrmp wrote

My first judgement of a book I've never heard of actually comes from its title. If it has a beautiful cover and a title that doesn't pique my interest, I probably won't take a second look. Once I see a title that sticks out to me, then I'll look at the cover art, summary, and maybe flip some pages to see stuff like chapter titles and page number.


Very-Much-So t1_j8ai5nw wrote

Absolutely! I love a nice cover and I'll pay extra if I can get a good looking book.

I actually put off reading The Red Tree by Caitlin R Kienan for a long time because the cover is so awful, and I'm annoyed I did because that book is a 10/10


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8aosnx wrote

My friend paid extra for a special edition of something and I'm pretty sure the only difference was a prettier cover and gold edging on the pages. Looks totally make a difference.

And another book I haven't heard of! I'll definitely check it out.


LilJourney t1_j8am04r wrote

Yes? Kind of?

Been playing a game with myself to get me out of a reading rut. I buy books based on their spine color in the order of the rainbow. I go into the used book store, scan for whatever color I'm on, pick out the first 4 books I see and buy the one that sounds the best. If I like the sound of more than one of them I'll do as you do and skip a couple chapters in and read a paragraph or two to get a feel for the author's style to help me pick.

I will be honest and say I've still ended up with some real duds / dnf's. But I've also stumbled across some great books I'd never have picked up otherwise which let me add to my list of "favorite authors" and thus expand my reading repertoire.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8ap0zl wrote

I absolutely love this method of getting out of a reading slump, thank you for sharing.


gingerbreadguy t1_j8b0xik wrote

I will pick up a book because of its cover, but I confirm with the description, reviews, and a bit of the inside whether or not it's for me. I like sophisticated/artsy covers but I don't like overly pretentious writing, so it's a bit of a trick. My most recent discovery with this method was John Danielle's books. It was the Devil House cover that got me interested. Ironically I enjoyed this two earlier novels much more.

I think Curtis Sittenfeld is the author for me who is most betrayed by her marketing/covers. She's written some killer literature that gets marketed as chick lit, which is a fine genre, but her books surpass that.


darkbloo64 t1_j8b25nk wrote

I can't browse for books in-person any more. At a certain point, I just get overloaded with all the titles and authors I don't recognize that my eyes glaze over and my mind stops processing any of them. I need a list of what I'm looking for going in, or I don't walk out with anything.

Don't get me wrong, I love physical establishments for books, especially libraries and independent bookstores, but window shopping for books just doesn't work for me.


beeofhoney t1_j8b46jc wrote

I let the universe decide! (Almost…) While my silly little designer mind is filled with design principles and appreciation for beauty in all its forms... I can never say no to a truly hideous book cover.

Additionally, I do have a personal preference for worn or second-hand books, so most of the books pit-stopping at my place look like they’ve lived a lifetime or two. Especially since I try to put in extra effort to blind-pick books to widen my horizons.

So if the cover is either clever, gorgeous, worn, or a visual crime, there’s a high chance I’m bringing another buddy back home with me 🐝 ✨


RainbowToast2 t1_j8b4ax2 wrote

Don’t want to takeover the post, just to piggyback off the idea a bit, lots of people are saying their drawn to the cover art, so now I’m curious as to what it is about the artwork that draws you to look at it over something else? I start with the book title first personally. If a book has made it to a traditional book store generally the cover art is always going to be of high quality, so what about it makes you look?


BEST_POOP_U_EVER_HAD t1_j8beoc0 wrote

I feel that certain types of books are associated with certain types of covers, and overall design choices.

For example, imagine three different covers. The titles of these books might be similar if not the same, and there's a picture of a woman on each cover. Depending on how the cover is designed, I can get very different impressions on what the book is like.

Cover A depicts a woman drawn in a pop-art graphic style and bright colours. She is smiling, fashionably dressed, and she's holding a pair of keys. I would think this is a lighthearted, romantic comedy type of book.

Cover B is a blurry photo of a women sitting alone in a meadow, next to a small shed. You can't see her well but she is dressed in 1950s clothing. I would assume this is a more "reflective" book, more likely to be sad than Cover A.

Cover C is a black and white photo of a woman in a business suit and there are sunny side eggs laid over her eyes. This makes me think the book is more likely to be experimental than A or B. Maybe heavy on irony.

These rules are not 110% obviously but with so much to choose from on a shelf, the brain makes shortcuts when it can. And unless a book cover is really poorly done (suggesting the publisher didn't think it deserved more care) I don't necessarily make assumptions about quality when I do this-- just what I might be in store for, content wise.

I think publishers know people have different assumptions about certain types of covers too. You don't want to put two violet eyed badasses holding swords on the cover of a fantasy book with a post-modern bent, wherein all sword fighting is only done in surreal, ptsd-induced traumatic dreams.


TheBalancedScholar t1_j8b4u17 wrote

I don't tend to judge a book by its cover, however , with that being said I have noticed that I am put off by a book if the cover has one of those stickers that can't be removed saying something "as seen on netflix". Just when I see that I have an instant feeling that the story won't be as enjoyable anymore.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8f8oss wrote

YES like realistically, I know that does not make or break the book but that instantly puts me off and I can't even put a finger on why.


Theresameinmf t1_j8bdgev wrote

well, its presentation is really important, I usually check the back of the book to see if there's an intro of the content, if both together don't catch my attention, hasta la vista


fourstarlasagna t1_j8apdaq wrote

I absolutely do. These covers aren’t random. Someone paid a fair bit of money to create a cover that entices the target audience. I guess I should say I absolutely did but they have started doing fantasy covers for romance novels that have a thin veneer of fantasy. If you put a dragon on the cover it should be a book about dragons not a book that inexplicably has two main characters banging in a doorway out of nowhere.

This has occasionally backfired. Elizabeth Moon is awesome and her covers always looked terrible to me. But this also means that deep in the pandemic I had a whole new author with a nice back catalog to read.

In a general way, I check the cover, I see who they got to give blurbs, I read the back (this is often less helpful than the first two). If I was wrong and I would have liked it, someone whose taste I respect will mention it later and I’ll give it a go. But there are more books published than any one person would ever have time to read. So if I miss a couple, oh well.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8at1yi wrote

Oh my god... dragons on the cover without it being about dragons???


fourstarlasagna t1_j8au7wj wrote

Technically it had “dragons.” Victorianish setting and the dragons were all walking around shape changed into people but it was 100% a historical romance. I got really frustrated before I figured out what was happening because I wanted to know more about the dragons and the shape changing and the lore and whatnot. The cover was a solid color with a gold dragon in a circle eating its own tail. It really had the feel of some publisher going “You know what women like? Dragons!” And then forcing the author to make it dragon-y.


Cymas t1_j8b6836 wrote

I judge that I am about 100x more likely to buy a book with a dragon on the cover lol.


cgee t1_j8b7y70 wrote

I recently decided not to buy a book that I wanted to read recently because of the cover. I going to some thrift shops looking at their books and came across Ender's Game. I hadn't read it before and figured I'd read it at some point but the cover put me off on buying that edition.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8f9c9p wrote

...I don't know what I was expecting but it was not that. I can't even fault you for it. I wouldn't buy that either.


rattymcratface t1_j8bir24 wrote

If I buy a Necronomicron I want to see a nipple or a tattoo or something to confirm that it’s human flesh.


dreamingfusedshadow t1_j8bj7yc wrote

I believe the cover to be one of the most important things about a book.

This is how I see it: Imagen yourself going to a bookstore. You don’t know what book you’re looking for; you just want to buy a book. You will be attracted by those with the most appealing covers. You see a cover you like, you take the book, see what it’s all about, and if you find it interesting, you buy it.

A nice cover doesn’t guarantee great content, but I think that it’s the main thing (or one of them) that draws people’s attention.

I had heard of Stephen King before reading his books or watching any of the movies inspired by them, but I was never really interested in his work, until I found myself in a store and on a shelf there was The Outsider. I was so captivated by that cover that I started to look it up online and finally decided to get it. If it wasn’t for that cover, I probably wouldn’t have read King today.


Extension_Virus_835 t1_j8bn10f wrote

I almost 100% of the time judge a book by its covers. I hate the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” I think it came from a time less thought was put into a cover when it was just a blank hardback because now covers are part of the reading experience.

There are millions of books in the world and thousands at every book store I cannot possible read the synopsis of every book and then decide what I want to read. I look for a cover that intrigued me, I’ll read the synopsis/look up reviews but it honestly is a huge tell for me.

If the cover is lack luster in my experience the book has been too, now don’t get me wrong some books have great covers but are still not great but I’ve tried before to push past my dislike for the cover before bc someone recommended it to me or it’s really popular but it’s always the same.

Covers are more than just pictures IMO they should (in theory) showcase the whole vibe that the book is going for. Take for example my most recent read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, looking at the cover it’s interesting it looks retro and the wave is beautiful, now once you’ve read the book that cover makes 100% sense and like wow it’s such a good cover for the novel.

Idk how people choose books when shopping if not at least to some degree judging the covers if that’s you how the world do you do it?


Amzuja t1_j8bra6g wrote

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is purely metaphorical, about people and their appearance. Publishers follow a lot of traditions and conventions to convey genre and style with their covers, we are MEANT to judge the book this way!


No_Poet_7244 t1_j8btgt3 wrote

I judge every book by its cover, and I’m not ashamed. If someone I trust recommends a book to me and the cover is awful, I’ll read it because I trust the person—but I won’t ever choose to read a book with an awful cover of my own accord.


ImperialTiger3 t1_j8c267u wrote

When I was younger, all the books I read had cool covers. Either that or they were the longest books in the library that were of interest to me.


WendellSanders01 t1_j8c6jcb wrote

I go mostly for a book that's either strange, obscure, rare, or a classic. Rare as in not a lot of available copies. Obscure as in not well known, strange as in a little bit mystifying. And classics to me are mainly anything from the 20th century and before. However, I stay away from mass produced books, and contemporary authors who are only in it for the money. I don't bother with modern series books, just because it's a well known modern author really means nothing to me most of the time. But that's ok, we all have our preferences. Anyway, the cover of the book doesn't matter, usually for me it depends on the title. And I flip through the book and see if anything stands out to me. I look at the date the book was printed, what edition it is, and the table of contents. But anyway, all of this doesn't matter really. Over time you'll determine your own opinions that matter to you. Maybe you care more about a book's cover, I suppose that's understandable.


Lrx125 t1_j8ca8dt wrote

I frequently judge books by their titles so I suppose I do to an extent.


Ok_Aioli1990 t1_j8caaqw wrote

Sometimes if cover art catches my attention I will look at the title and author then synopsis. Usually it's title and/or author. Sometimes subject matter or just fatness of book that looks well thumbed and previously loved.


whisky_in_your_water t1_j8cck05 wrote

  1. Read the summary
  2. Read a few Goodreads reviews
  3. Maybe skim a few pages to see if the style is my thing

That's really it. I don't care much about cover art, I mostly care about character development and good enough writing to not be distracting. The reviews largely give me the first, and skimming the book a bit gives me the second.


WackyWriter1976 t1_j8cekkb wrote

I'm doing my best to focus solely on the premise and blurb/summary, but it's challenging not to consider the book cover. When they're good, I'm in, and when they're bad, I know I am missing out on an entertaining story, but I cannot buy.


lisap17 t1_j8cz4cn wrote

A good cover will definitely pull me in, or at least trigger my interest in reviewing the book's synopsis, if I haven't heard anything about it prior to seeing the cover. But a bad cover alone will not make me not read a book, since I mainly read in digital format or listen to the audio version anyway. A synopsis though can absolutely make it or break it for me. Most of the time these days I discover books from social media or friend recommendations, so I might still get the free version (the audio snippet or the first 20-30 "sample" pages) even if I'm on the fence after seeing the synopsis, but if it's something I found myself, I can totally skip it if I didn't like the summary or the reviews were overwhelmingly bad.


Scat_fiend t1_j8czko5 wrote

If they made a movie from the book and then the book cover has a picture from that movie I will absolutely be put off.


Loud-Fairy03 t1_j8d0vqf wrote

Honestly, always I think. There’s certain covers or titles that I vibe with way more than others, and that’s what makes me wanna check the synopsis. The synopsis is always what determines my final choice though.


xXDestinyX t1_j8d6r8u wrote

I definitely judge it by its cover even if it is the greatest book if the cover is these cute/cringy animations of two characters i will pass


thegaybookfox t1_j8de0f9 wrote

I go by how much people like them (reviews on Goodreads), their cover, the summary, the author (sometimes) and just overall writing style tbh


Wadsworth_McStumpy t1_j8ecaxp wrote

Of course. That's what the cover is for. I usually look for a title or picture that looks interesting, and for the name of an author that I've heard of. If any of those catch my attention, I'll pick it up and see what it's about. If it sounds interesting, then I'll buy it.

Sometimes the book sucks in spite of a cool cover, but books are cheap, so that isn't a big deal. And I'm pretty sure I've probably missed a few good books because the covers sucked, but maybe I'll see it again and I'll recognize the author's name the second time.

Also, "rent" or buy? Do you mean "borrow" or buy? I'm not familiar with renting books.


KittyLord0824 OP t1_j8f98ql wrote

I absolutely could not remember the word borrow to save my life :') Thank you.


Pale_Faithlessness13 t1_j8go0jz wrote

Yes. The cover matters.
Also true: I was talking to a wine expert at a wine shop, and he told us that many people pick out new wines based on the attractive graphics on the label.


CalGuy456 t1_j8h5fg5 wrote

This is my biggest issue with books, it’s so hard to figure out what to read. Looking at the cover only goes so far. Knowing the book’s topic also only goes so far.


DanTheTerrible t1_j8hyklf wrote

I have lived for 12 years in a rural area with no decent bookstore. I've gotten dependent on reddit for leads, and the Internet for purchases.

But when I was younger, yeah, I used to cruise bookstores in person. Nothing was as good a draw as new title by a favorite author, but a good cover was often what drew me to try an unknown. Mind you in those days I was almost exclusively a reader of science fiction, and so many sci-fi covers are laughably terrible good ones stand out.