Let’s Talk…Judging books by their covers (because come on, we all do it)

judging books by their covers

This discussion is coming to you all quite a bit later in the day than usual, purely because I’ve been busy lately and completely lost track of days…and then realised this morning that OOPS a chatty post was meant to be scheduled for today. And I didn’t write it last night, like I usually do. So here I am, writing it actually on the day for once.

So, today’s topic is a pretty easy one. Not particularly controversial, not too important, just a bit of fun and something good and lighthearted to talk about.

Let’s talk!


Isn’t that a phrase most of us bookworms like to live by?

Or rather…a phrase we like to think we live by.

Because we know how true it is. Judging books by their covers is basically paperweight prejudice.

But come on. It’s honestly hard not to judge a book by it’s cover. It’s can be what pulls us in. It can be the thing that catches our eye and makes us read the synopsis. It can be the thing that makes us want to collect more books (because let’s be real, there’s so many gorgeous covers out there).

Or…it can put us off. It can make us cringe away. It can give us the wrong impression of the story inside.

So what’s the verdict? What makes a good cover and what makes a bad cover?

what I like

I feel like I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to book covers. There’s not many I don’t like. But there’s a few things I’ve noticed I veer towards:

Personally, if I see a book with stunning typography, I want it immediately. Think of books like Passenger, A Darker Shade Of Magic and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – I love the fonts used on those!

A gorgeous colour theme grabs my attention (especially if all the series match!!!). I especially love the colours on Melinda Salisbury’s books, The Sin Eater’s Daughter series. And the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

Shiny things. I’m basically a magpie. This one is specifically on here because I got an ARC of Caraval not long ago and can’t stop staring at it. It’s not even the final cover but it’s already stunning!

put me off


I hate seeing models on covers. I do admit that sometimes it works. But most of the time, I hate seeing people’s faces on covers. And WHYYYY are they always staring out of the cover, glaring into your eyes like they’re trying to change your soul? *shudders*  

I like to be able to imagine the characters for myself. Take those faces off the covers, please and thank you.

What else…OH just any cover that looks plain. Like, they don’t necessarily put me off, but they don’t encourage me either.

Think of the original covers of The Bone Season series. I love them, they were bright and funky. Now…there’s been a cover change and they’re all just white with a little symbol in the middle. While I don’t hate them…I WANT THE ORIGINAL COVERS BACK. Yes I’m still salty about this. 

Also, the “Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games!!” phrases. I’m just sick of those being scrawled across the top of every book ever.

proven wrong

I used to completely stay away from contemporaries. Admittedly, if they have a cover that makes me cringe, I still do stay away from them, but I’m learning.

Anna and the French Kiss – both the title and the cover made me cringe a bit (the old cover, I love the pink one). And now? It’s one of my favourite books!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – I do like the cover, but it does make me cringe a bit. I mean, it’s a girl daydreaming while writing. It looks rather cliche. But I liked the book a lot!

Outlander – the covers aren’t horrible, and look good when they’re together, but on their own it’s a bit boring. But Outlander is one of my favourite books 🙂

I’m getting better at not judging by covers. But it’s hard, you know?


Of course they are!

Like I said before, a lot of the time, they’re what lures people in. When looking at the shelves of a bookstore, when there’s literally hundreds of books side by side to compete with, what’s the first thing you see? The cover and title! It needs to be eye catching.

Plus, it gives readers an idea of what to expect in the book. Most of the time (and yes, I’m saying most because sometimes cover designers can get it all wrong) the design will take on a similar feel to the story, so it will attract the right readers.

Yes, we all know we shouldn’t judge. But there’s been plenty a time I’ve seen a pretty cover and thought “OOOOH what’s that one about?!” and then cringed away from covers with loved up models in awkward positions.

And let’s be honest, most of us book collectors like our shelves to be aesthetically pleasing. So why wouldn’t we buy the pretty covers?

So now it’s your turn!

Do you judge a book by it’s cover, even if you don’t mean to? Do you sometimes scold yourself for doing so, like I do? 😆

What do you like seeing on book covers?

What puts you off a book if seen on the cover?

What are a few of your favourite and least favourite covers?

Do you think book cover design is important?

Join the discussion in the comments!

Until next time…

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43 thoughts on “Let’s Talk…Judging books by their covers (because come on, we all do it)

  1. Oh, I definitely judge books by their covers. I even judge books by their titles haha

    For the most part, I don’t like people on covers either. Like you said, sometimes it works, most of the time it’s just awkward. I dislike the Outlander covers xD I’ve never read it, but I’ve watched the show. Either way, those plain covers are ….ugh. I don’t really know what I look for to be honest. There’s a mix of things I like. I like fun covers, but not too crazy. I like a great design. I like color. Oh, I also like a good spine. I just thought of that because I looked at my bookshelf and thought “This Savage Song has a good cover, BUT that spine is hideous” haha

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have really mixed feelings about the Outlander covers! They’re boring compared to most, but at the same time I’m just glad they match, since so many other series I own don’t. But they definitely could’ve been a bit more inventive with them. There’s even two different editions (as far as I know) – UK and US – but they’re both just a symbol and a different colour for each book. That’s it? Ugh.
      I love a good spine – it’s probably more important than the covers, since they’re the part that’s on display most haha! It can be hard to get a good design on a spine though I suppose, there’s not much space.


  2. I completely agree with you! Book covers are so important. Especially when I’m just browsing the book shop, I look at books that I’ve heard of and then the books which covers catch my eye.
    Great post!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love this post. I totally agree with everything you said. Pretty covers with beautiful details are amazing. We shouldn’t judge, because sometimes books with ugly covers have amazing stories and books with pretty covers have shitty stories, but oh well… we always pick up the book with the pretty cover haha. Great post Ashleigh.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh my word, I couldn’t actually agree with you more about the phrases on the covers! I hate hate hate it when it says ‘For fans of Divergent’ or ‘Twilight meets the Hunger Games’ (those are really bad examples haha). But I hate it! Plus, 99.9% of the time, the book is the complete opposite for what it says on the cover, so I’m pretty sure publishers just do it to name drop successful books in hope that the book will receive the same hype. Ugh, it annoys me so much!! I LOVED this post though, judging book covers is definitely an interesting topic:) Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aimee!
      It’s definitely just a ploy to sell more books. With the amount of hype books like The Hunger Games/Divergent/Twilight got, they’ll try to use that as a selling point. Which, to be honest, I’ve never heard anyone say THAT’S why they bought a book. I don’t even read the little quotes and phrases on book covers before I buy them, I usually only read them after I’ve bought them and they’re hanging round in my room somewhere!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post!!! I totally agree with you about people on covers! I’d much rather imagine them myself. Also, the first cover of Anna and the French Kiss was just awful!!! I’m so glad I looked past the cover (and title) and gave it a shot bc it’s such a great book!! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      I don’t think anyone liked the first Anna and the French Kiss cover…it’s probably why they changed it haha! I normally hate cover changes, but that one was a very, VERY good choice 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always judge a book by its cover. One thing I absolutely hate are film covers. You know putting part of a film as a book cover. I feel that is advertisement more than a cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! They’re horrible, and again it’s the thing with having people on the cover. It just seems like a pointless way of saying “oh yeah, this happens to be a film too go buy that”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve learned to apply that thinking to non-bookish life, but it’s really hard to stay on that positive track when it comes to books, themselves x)
    It’s especially helpful when I’m SURROUNDED by books in a bookstore, don’t have all day, and am trying to find something that sounds really good. I look at the covers. See which ones draw me in to read the blurb. Some sound boring, some make me WANT. So covers are quite imperative.

    I love magical or eerie looking books. And, much like the Bone Season covers, simple, yet elegant ones. I hate when review words are scrawled all over the front, as well as any STICKERS. Or even award things embedded in the cover. Like, I know it’s an /award/… but can it go on the back? I wanna stare at the full cover…
    It seems like adult books that I’ve come across tend to not look as appealing as YA books… Especially romance ones, with the muscular men and pretty women… And I read M/M books – I rarely find a seriously appealing cover. I gloss over it and enjoy the story.

    I also am not a fan of cover changes in the middle of series, UNLESS they really end up looking better (uncommon).

    I can’t remember all covers that are faves, but I would love to own the ADSoM series just for that. I also love the newer TID covers (*^*) I like when spines makes pictures. And Withered + Sere and Crisped + Sere are eerie :3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yepp, I’ve applied the quote in life too but the actual origin of the saying? Still working on that 😆
      I love magical looking books too, they’re probably my favourite! And yes…the dreaded stickers and award labels. What’s even worse is when you think the award circle is a sticker – which is already bad – but then you try to take it off to see the full cover AND IT’S EMBEDDED. UGH. So deceiving.
      I agree it’s definitely much harder to find a lot of nice covers in adult books. It’s almost as if they feel like they have to try more for YA, but by the time your older they just give up a bit. I can’t remember ever seeing an adult book cover that made me think “oh WOW that’s stunning!” like many YA covers do!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, my gosh, that deceit is even worse. And if they are stickers, I also hate when they use a kind that leaves residue on the cover >:| Thankfully, that’s not common for brand new books, but used! Ugh.

        Right?? I don’t understand why they just give up! I mean, if the authors love it, that’s fine. But definitely not as magical.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, usually stickers aren’t too bad to get off nowadays because they make them thicker so they’re less likely to tear. But if the residue stays behind, I usually use a ruler edge to scrape it off – it works really well for me!


  8. Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favorite books, too, and I also hated the old cover. Covers matter a lot in my opinion since it gives the first impression of a book: that it might be a contemporary or a fantasy or something REALLY cheesy. I love books with nice typography and illustration(s) on the front cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First impressions can mean a lot! The covers give us readers a good idea of what genre the book is, for a start 🙂
      Typography and illustrations are my thing too, I just love them ❤


  9. I completely agree 100%.
    Here’s my answers:

    What do you like seeing on book covers?
    Beautiful art. I like a cover that tells a story, and it’s something I can bear looking at. The more beautiful the cover, the more I’m drawn to it. There is a free book called Shade, and it sounds horrible, but the cover is so illuminated and sparkly that I want to own it just for its beauty. Same with The Bone Witch, but of course I received a copy from NetGalley without the cover. The Lunar Chronicles were beautiful. Lauren Destefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy was stunning. There are others. Of course.

    What puts you off a book if seen on the cover?
    Cover images that I’ve seen before. That drives me crazy. Or covers that have a pic of something that looks like it was pulled out of a 1990s video game. Or covers that have text that seems like it was pasted on. Or just jacked up covers in general. I won’t usually read them. The only one I liked and still read despite the cover was a book given to me for a RaR called Above the Sky (Jenny Lynne). The first version had a black and white photo of a 30 something girl looking to the sky. It was horrible. I told her, and she changed it to a globe on fire. Still not great…but better. Some people just don’t have the funds or artistic ability to make pretty covers, I guess.

    What are a few of your favourite and least favourite covers?
    These Broken Stars, Forget Tomorrow, Poison (Lan Chan), Splintered, The Kiss of Deception, Wicked Lovely series, For Darkness Shows the Stars, Crimson Bound, The Queen’s Poisoner, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, The Dream Protocol, and I could go on forever….because these are just recent ones.

    Do you think book cover design is important?
    YES! Yes so much. I’m not going to read a book that looks like a third grader designed the cover. I like pretty books. I can’t help it. There is so much beauty to Lady Artifice, but I haven’t read the Mortal Instruments and probably wouldn’t like it, but I want it just for the cover. I have some books for RaRs with ugly covers, and some are good…but most are bad. I feel you can have a beautiful cover and still have a bad book, but usually books that have an ugly cover are just not good from the get go. People: everyone judges a book by its cover because that’s all we have to go on, besides the blurb. And if the cover sucks, there’s 100 other books with a similar synopsis that have gorgeous covers. Invest in a great cover! It will be worth your time and money!!

    There you go. And btw, I agree: I’ve written how much I hate when a book says, “if you liked The Hunger Games, you’ll love this book…” Ummm, I don’t think so. Don’t compare your book to another author’s because then we are going to read it expecting to see similarities and not enjoy the plot. Thank you!
    Lol. That was fun. 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you agree! 😀
      It’s just so easy to be drawn in by a beautiful cover. And while it can be hard for designers to judge what would be a good cover (because we all like different things), it’s fairly easy to see what sort of books are the most popular, and you can guarantee half the people who read it will have first picked it up for the cover.
      I think there’s only one cover I have that I hate, which was a book I was sent for review. I even said in the review that I hated the cover, but I DID really like the story. But the cover…well, it looked like I (being absolutely pants at technology) could have made it in word. It definitely looked like the photos had been pasted on. I hope they don’t go with that designer again, honestly.
      The whole Hunger Games quotes purely annoys me because none of the books it’s written on will be ANYTHING like that story! Obviously all books are different, but you can normally see it on books of the same genre, but sometimes the book will have nothing similar in the slightest *shakes head*

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I definitely judge books by their covers. I don’t do it now but I remember before my blog and Goodreads I would buy so many books based solely on their cover and would only glance at their blurb! I really hate that I used to do that as there are a few books on my shelves that I just can’t be bothered to pick up now. Even if a cover is pretty I will always check Goodreads first before buying a book now!

    Lauren @ My Expanding Bookshelf

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I too am a sucker for nice typography, but I also like plain book covers where the typography is the only thing there; it instantly draws my eye and adds a sense of mystery to things so I have to read the book to know what happens. One of my favourite covers ever is the Picador edition of American Psycho, purely because it’s so plain.

    I never really understood the frustration towards people on book covers – I’ve hardly ever been bothered by them, and in fact some of my favourite covers have people on! But they do have the tendency to be extra cringey, so I get where you’re coming from. And I WISH they’d stop putting the Hunger Games thing on books! The amount of times I’ve been let down by things that are ‘perfect’ for HG fans… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I like plain covers if they have nice typography, but then I don’t consider them “plain” if they have a nice font, because to me that’s basically a picture of sorts 🙂
      And yepp, the Hunger Games quotes are just overused and a bit tedious now, they need to stop really.


  12. I hate when people say not to judge a book by its cover. I’m studying design, so I feel like book covers are really important – it’s the vision representation of what the book is. How could you not judge the book based on the cover? It’s someone’s job to create a cover that captures the feeling of the book and catches the eye.

    The only things I dislike about covers are when they’re straight up ugly (I hate the covers of A Whole New World and Once Upon a Dream) or when they’re just overly generic looking (I don’t like the new cover of The Accident Season). Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 And exactly! What would be the point of book covers if they weren’t there to be a judging point for the book? If we weren’t supposed to judge, then all covers would just be plain colours or something.
      I’ve not seen the new cover of The Accident Season, but I’m going to go look for it now to see 😆


  13. I always judge books by their covers, and I think it’s the right thing to do. When a book is published, a lot of work goes into it, and the cover is an important part of the book as a whole – ignoring that feels like an insult to the designer. If a cover is good it deserves praise and if it’s bad it deserves to be criticised, just like the story. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I totally agree with you about faces ruining the covers! But what I find even worse is the covers published based on a movie releases, *shudder,* they just look so tacky.

    My favorites are the covers with a slightly covered model. Just enough image to match the characters description, but not too much as to ensure that you’re still left guessing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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