Do YOU judge books by their covers?

I find this is quite an interesting talking point, as there is the famous saying ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’, which is meant to speak more metaphorically rather than literally. So, are the choices you make when choosing a book ever slightly based on what the cover looks like… ever… even just a little bit?

I’m am going to admit it, although I am always open to new books from authors I like, and books that have been recommended to me, I will always look at the cover. As a aspiring designer, I also check who has designed the cover as well. has it been designed by a freelance designer, an in-house designer at a publishing company, or pictures just taken from stock images and strung together? Besides, when you are in a bookshop, how do you choose your next favourite read? What makes it jump out among all the rest on the shelf? It’s the cover. Despite the famous saying, every book lover will always pick up a book because the cover has attracted them in some way.

Now, this is not to say we necessarily judge a book by it’s cover, as the words inflict our opinion of the book, but the cover plays a big part in whether we end up reading the book or not. If I see a book in Waterstones, or on Amazon, and the cover looks good, I am more likely to read more about it and decide if I will add it to my TBR list.

I have a strong dislike for stringy romances, all the same with not much of an interesting plot line. I have formed this opinion from reading boring romances, but the thing that really bugs me about these types of books is they all have awful covers. They are all made up of a scruffy title with a typeface straight out of the Microsoft with two white people kissing, sunset gleaming behind them, most likely on a beach. Either that, or a cartoon/drawing of a very similar thing! This automatically deters me from a book, because I relate it directly to the genre I’m not a massive fan of.

Another thing that really bugs me, which I mentioned earlier on, is covers made from stock images. I was recently shocked to realise that the one edition of the Divergent book series uses stock images to make their covers. The designers have taken free images which don’t have any copyright and string them together using Photoshop. They can then add their own photos to the mix as well, and make it look fairly professional. You can always tell if stock images have been used because publishers have to put the designer on the front, and credit what sources they have used.

So what is your opinion on judging books by covers, or using them to choose your next favourite read? What about bad book covers? And stock images? I’d love to hear what you all think 🙂

By bookmuffin

I like books and tea. MA Children's Literature student.

14 replies on “Do YOU judge books by their covers?”

This is a great post! I absolutely judge books by their covers, and often pick up a book just because it has a pretty cover. (That doesn’t mean I don’t read books with awful covers, though; a science fiction series I love has pretty horrible cover paintings, but the books are excellent, so I just put the books face-down when I’m not reading them. 😀 )


Thank you! I am more attracted to pretty covers as well, although some great classics have pretty awful covers because of when they were published, and haven’t been changed over the years


Lol, I recently bought a 1980s edition of one of my favorite books (it was reissued a few years ago, which is how I found out about it), and the cover is awwwwwfullllll. I love it though!


Yes. Yes I really do. I’m absolutely terrible for finding a book with a beautiful cover, convincing myself that I NEED it and then forgetting about it for two months, only to find it was pretty rubbish in the first place. And I’m especially bad with ebooks (I’m really into ebooks at the moment). If an ebook cover involves two hot, half naked people and some awkward text, I will not buy it. Also, why do so many ebook covers show two hot, half naked people??? WHY????
Beth x


Haha yes, i seem to find eBooks are easier to read if they have a bad cover (if that makes sense…?) because you don’t see the cover as often as you would a paperback. I cannot stand half naked people on book covers, it irritates me!


I am totally guilty! I may seem shallow, but the cover is what a potential reader sees first. If the cover looks bad, then that customer will likely think that the book is bad as well. I recently saw a hair tie package that had the same picture of a girl from a Jillian Dodd book cover. Stock photo is pretty obvious.


I completely agree, that’s what bookstores display in the window and on their shelves! Great example, just proof some publishers can’t be bothered with a decent book cover!


Loved this post and the topic! I admit that most of the books I buy are based on their covers! I just can’t resist gorgeous covers. Strolling through the book store I am basically searching for pretty books to catch my eye! Even online if I see a particularly pretty looking cover on a book, I’m going to click on it! I just love food quality, gorgeous covers!


I think we all judge books by their covers, to some degree. That is why publishers put so much effort into designing them, after all! And, in many cases, a cover does attempt to signal something about the book. An adult high fantasy series will have a distinct look, while a steamy historical fiction novel will have another one. So, even if readers aren’t judging a book’s quality by the cover, I think a lot of us are judging what the “main features” of the book might be from the cover.


I agree! You can definitely tell a lot about what is inside a book by looking at the cover. Also, publishers are a dead giveaway, as nobody like Penguin or Bloomsbury would chose to publish a crappy novel, because they know it is not good for business!


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