Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Judge-y McJudgerson. Which books helped you overcome cover prejudice?

Oh, book covers. Judge, judge, judge. You know you do.

No matter how much we all know that covers and content don't necessarily match quality-wise (and sometimes don't match at all, for better or for worse), we still let book covers influence us!

And it usually takes a few strong recommendations from trusted readers/reviewers to convince us to give an unpretty (or unappealing-to-us) book a try.

And even when we add those unattractively-covered books to our TBR piles, don't they usually sink to the bottom in favor of the pretty-covered books? And with limited reading time, who knows when we'll get to them!

(You know you're all nodding along with me.)

But it's sooooo what's on the inside that counts! Anyone who's dropped twenty-plus dollars on a gorgeous hardcover only to find they couldn't read past chapter three knows what I'm talking about. (But golly, it looks so pretty collecting dust on your bookshelf!)

Here's what I'm asking of you: Share in the comments one or two (or three or fifteen) books that you read and loved DESPITE finding the cover less than shiny. I want to get past my judging instincts, and the best way is via hearty recommendations!

My most shameful example: The Hunger Games. I lived A YEAR without reading that book because of the darn cover! (Actually, because of the font! I loathe the font!) But thankfully, all the awesome reviews knocked some sense into me.*

Why, font, why???

Can't wait for your recommendations!

Ok, I have more to ask of people who have e-readers: Do you find yourself more open to books with unattractive covers now that you buy electronic versions? I listen to audiobooks (which sometimes have different (and occasionally HORRENDOUS) covers than their printed versions), and the covers still influence me!

Addendum: Stacked (excellent blog!) actually just did an awesome post on books with recent dramatic cover changes in the hardcover-to-paperback transition, how they impact the feel of the book, and which work/don't for the writer, Kelly. Well worth it for you to check out!

* So I have nooo idea what the Hunger Games movie posters will look like, but I just imagine the mockingjay pin/arrow symbol with the black and gray background, and just the release date. Like, BAM this movie is so awesome and enormously anticipated that the posters don't even need a title. Yes? No?


  1. Okay, so I love you for that Firefly reference alone.

    My most shameful example is the Vampire Acdemy series, because not only did I not like the covers, I actually mocked them for years whenever I saw them come up in a blog post. Keep in mind that I'm not a huge paranormal fan (definitely not a vampire fan), so I had no real urge to read these. Then 'Last Sacrifice' comes out and every blogger and their mother are freaking out about these books. Then I randomly win a signed copy of 'Spirit Bound' and decide I might as well give them a chance. Oh thank goodness I did, because I ADORE them. But those covers? Oh gosh. I'd be embarrassed to be seen reading them in public.

    That's a little bit of an epic story, but now I feel all judgey and bad, because I could have been experiencing the awesomeness of VA for so long if I had just given them a chance. On the bright side, I did get to read all 6 books basically in a row.

    Another one is 'Perfect Chemistry' by Simone Elkeles (plus the covers of the other two books as well) ... I didn't necessarily put off reading it because of the cover, but gosh, they're horribly cheesy, aren't they? Lots of mildly inappropriate (or highly inappropriate: I'm looking at you book 3!) kissing and water. These books are actually totally addicting and fun, but the covers? Not only embarrassing in public, but I swear you would be able to feel other people judging you. I would be judging me, I know that.

    The lesson here? I am apparently very judgey over book covers as well, AND I leave epic long comments.

  2. Oh gosh, the comment looks even longer now that I posted it. That sucker could be a whole blog entry. :/

  3. I am not afraid to admit it, I totally judge books by their cover lol

  4. Maybe this is terrible, but I can't remember a cover I hated. I usually find out about books through writers blogs and book review blogs. Then I get excited and want to read it.

  5. Ashley - I LOVE YOU FOR THIS COMMENT. (1) You immediately caught my teeny, tiny Firefly reference. (2) I ALSO was off put by the VA books, but LOVEEEEEE that series! (3) Excellent point of covers that aren't necessarily ugly, but off-putting for another reason. Thanks!!!

  6. Well, I remember having a horribly hard time getting people to read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld because of the picture on the cover. It was before the photo trend really kicked into high gear, and everyone who saw the photo immediately associated it with the Clique or Gossip Girl series, because at the time, that was the sort of book with those sort of covers! Now, of course, it's not exactly an issue.

  7. @Natalie - Thankfully, since I read book review blogs, I'm wayyyyy more likely to read a book with an unattractive cover. Before, when I used to go into a bookstore "blind," I always tended to pick up books with the prettiest covers. Now I walk into a bookstore and not only recognize most of the YA section, I remember what the books are about and what the reviews have been!

    @Taschima - hahaha We love honesty here!

    @Liz - Wow, confusing Uglies with Gossip Girl -- but it makes sense! Glad that doesn't happen anymore.

  8. That is why I like reading reviews, because I if someone I have similar tastes with like a book I glanced over but ignored, I will usually give it another shot. Take the Goddess Games, totally skipped it because the cover and the title didn't attract me and then I read reviews and picked it up right away.

  9. Maximum Ride by James Patterson. The first fifty times I saw it, my first thought was, "EWWWWWWWWW". My friends bullied me into reading it. The book turned out pretty good :)

  10. I am one of those rare, rare breeds who prefer the absence of models on a book cover (I actually love THG covers a lot, because of this). Weird, I know. It bothers me that the models chosen tend to be so chiseled and perfect-looking. And hardly ever an accurate representation of whatever character they're supposed to be. I hate it when looking back at the cover after finishing a book makes me think, "Who is that even supposed to be?"

    The covers I like best are more cryptic, less face-y, and more directly related to the stories within. Like GOING BOVINE. Probably my favorite cover ever. Also, THE REPLACEMENT. A good example of a cover that made me squirm, attached to a book that I loved in spite of it, is WHITE CAT. I know, I'm the only person in the world who doesn't like that cover. On the other hand, I love the UK version of it. Same goes for RED GLOVE. Mmm.

  11. I definitely agree with @Juliemybird. Give me some illustrated covers, please! I loved the old LEVIATHAN cover, and I absolutely abhor the new one. I think my favourite cover is the American cover for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Funnily enough, Donna, the font of THG is precisely what drew me to it!

    I almost didn't read RAISED BY WOLVES because of it's cover, but I'm glad I did. I liked the hardcover NIGHTSHADE, not really loving the paperback. Initially, I HATED the IF I STAY paperback makeover, but i think most of the reason I hated it was because of the "will appeal to fans of Twilight" blurb on the front.

  12. I did the exact same thing with The Hunger Games. I'd heard it was mind-blowingly awesome and thought I should pick it up, but the cover kept putting me off. Then a friend bought it for me for Christmas, and even in my bookshelf I avoided it. Somehow I forced myself to give it a try, and of course I couldn't put it down. Lesson probably not entirely learned, but I'm trying.

  13. @ Yani, Bethany, & Julie - Your reply is via email!

    @Meggie (A - Like you and Julie, I totally tend to favor illustrated covers. But we're polar opposites on THG font! The block letters yet curvy S? I can't handle it! haha

    @Annie - "Lesson probably not entirely learned, but I'm trying." <- You put it perfectly!


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