Why it’s Necessary to Judge a Book by Its Cover

Why it’s Necessary to Judge a Book by Its Cover

Why it’s Necessary to Judge a Book by Its Cover

A good number of reviewers, receive many more books than they could ever read in a month. More than they could possibly delve into deeply enough to determine if a given volume was a piece of brilliance or a sad tosh. The only practical, if imperfect, way to deal with this issue is to consult the accompanying press releases, which usually consist of only a replica of the jacket blurb and some contact information. So, to clarify, some booklovers read the backs of books to determine which ones you might enjoy. Maybe read a few random paragraphs as well. That is to say, you should do the same thing as everyone else.

Regrettably, this method is frequently no better than evaluating a book by its cover.

You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover


The saying "don't judge a book by its cover" refers to the fact that you shouldn't make a decision about someone or something based entirely on their or its external look. After all, a book's cover could be dull, with no image or illustration, but its pages could be packed with very fascinating characters and stories. You'd be missing out on a fantastic book if you merely looked at its cover and decided to pass it up purely on first impressions. A person can appear to be very lovely or handsome on the outside but be cruel and heartless on the inside. You'd be misinformed about their true nature if you formed a judgement based solely on their outward appearance. In other words, you shouldn't make a snap judgment about someone or anything based on appearances because it's hard to know someone or something's genuine worth or nature just on appearances.


The roots of the statement aren't totally understood. It's said to have started with George Eliot's work The Mill on the Floss, published in 1860. Mr. Riley and Mr. Tulliver are talking about a book called The History of the Devil that Mr. Tulliver's daughter, Maggie, is reading. Mr. Riley is taken aback by Mr. Tulliver's willingness to let her read it, but Mr. Tulliver explains that he simply bought it for the cover and had no idea what book was about. "But they've all got the same covers," Mr. Tulliver continues, "and I believed they were all o' one sample, as you may say." However, it appears that one should not judge by appearances. "We live in a perplexing universe."

As you can see, the sentence isn't precisely the same, but the sentiment is pretty similar. Regardless, George Eliot is sometimes quoted as stating, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

"Don't judge a book by its cover, see a man by his cloth," an article in the Piqua Democrat in 1867 said, "since there is sometimes a fair deal of substantial worth and better competence beneath a jacket and yeller pants."

Clearly, the phrase began to gain popularity about that period. The version "you can never tell a book by its cover" appears in Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller's 1940s murder mystery Murder in the Glass Room. To this day, the term has remained a common expression.

What's on the Cover of a Book?

It's fairly typical. The title, author name, design, and slogan are all included on most book covers. Others may contain a few critics' or other authors' quotes. When we talk about judging a book by its cover, we can talk about a lot of things, such as the author's name or the title. These are significant, but they divert the discussion in a different direction. When judging a book based on its author, the focus is on the author's ideas, reputation, and opinion, rather than the cover design.

Why is it necessary to judge a book by its cover?

  1. First impressions are crucial.

Why place so much emphasis on the cover of a book?

We understand the significance of a first impression. It's why we get dressed up for a first date, deliver a firm handshake during a job interview, and make a food appear appetizing before serving it. First impressions are crucial.

We all make snap decisions that either raise or diminish our expectations. The cover of a book serves as the crucial first impression. It's a representation of the author’s writing in graphic form. A lousy one, on the other hand, creates the appearance that you are unconcerned about quality.

  1. We all evaluate books using a set of criteria.

Some people evaluate a book based on its title, author, narrative, tagline, author profile, blurb, and other factors. Many of us, we believe, agree that most things should not be appraised purely on the basis of one factor. Most judgments necessitate the consideration of many viewpoints. In this scenario, the cover is merely one of several elements to consider while purchasing a book, whether it is a second hand book or not. Couldn't a reader, if they so desired, base their selection on the cover? Shouldn't a reader be able to utilize the cover image as a deciding factor?

And, if we're not going to judge a book by its cover, what's the point of it in the first place? Why have a cover if some people say you shouldn't consider it while judging a book? Good books are meticulously designed. They give close attention to significant components such as the storyline, characters, and fundamental conflict, but they don't overlook the minor ones. This comprises the front cover, artwork, and design, among other things. There's a reason why everything is the way it is. That is something we must respect. This leads us to the third point we’d want to make.

  1. It's a fantastic indicator of a book’s quality

A book's cover also serves as a quality indicator. It demonstrates the meticulous attention to detail that has gone into the entire project.

A fantastic cover gives us faith that the book will be fantastic as well. A poorly designed or low-quality cover also communicates a lack of attention to detail.

Maybe the author rushed his/her writing because he/she rushed your cover. You probably wouldn't hire an editor if you wouldn't hire a graphic designer.

That's the line of reasoning being used to evaluate a book, right or wrong. This is something you should be aware of.

  1. Appreciates the Author's and Other Publishing Personnel's Work

Each cover necessitates a specific level of expertise. There are a plethora of brilliant, beautiful, and intelligent book covers to choose from. Although some covers appear to be simple to put together, many of them are remarkable. Isn't this advice ignoring the talents, time, and money invested in the cover's creation? There's time spent coming up with a concept, designing it, and fine-tuning the specifics. It takes a lot of effort to create a cover that represents a completed story. That's a lot of effort and time for readers to just skim over. Shouldn't we be pleased that people are forming opinions based on the cover?

  1. It's impossible to avoid making snap decisions.

Some bibliophiles couldn't read every book that was sent to them, even if they wanted to. There is simply insufficient time.

We have to make choices regarding each self-published book without having read it first. Many of potential readers are coming to the same conclusion.

So, as a reader, how do you ensure that you pay attention to some good work? When you are looking over a book, you should look for the following things:

  • The synopsis of the book
  • The author's education and experience
  • The self-publishing company that was used
  • Everyone who has given their support to the book
  • Who authored the foreword to the book?
  • What other books has the author written?

However, we don't want to search for any of them in more than three-quarters of the entries we receive. We are not required to.

  1. Book covers reveal a certain amount about the content of the book.

They are intended to inform potential readers about the genre and other pertinent information. Many genres have their own set of cover designs that they stick to. The distinction between a Young Adult fantasy series and adult romance is evident. These two things aren't alike in any way. That's a reasonable conclusion.

A magical, dark, and adventurous novel, for example, should express elements that are related to the substance of the book. In this scenario, the cover is more than just decoration; it serves as a messenger, delivering vital information to potential readers.

This can be seen in a variety of genres. Take, for example, a cozy mystery. A pun in the title and attractive graphics on the cover are common features of these novels. We all anticipate to see specific things on the covers of various books, for the most part. Isn't it true that we need a cover with a grand estate and gowns with a high waisted bodice for regency romance books? Many genres follow this rule, emphasizing imagery that connects with the plot and the audience. Covers serve as a preview of what will be found within the pages. It can be served as an appetizer or as the restaurant's entrance. The book's cover depicts what you can expect from it. It aids the reader in determining whether or not this book is right for them.

Many covers, of course, can be deceiving. They can conjure up ideas of summer joy or a summer affair while simultaneously concealing the main character's deep depression. To this, we can only remark that a cover like that is an option. Perhaps the author, publisher, or other professionals wants to target a specific audience that might not otherwise read this book. Furthermore, even if a book does not turn out as intended, the whole experience might be pleasant.

What Does This Imply for Writers?

We’re sure it's discouraging for an author's work to be assessed on something that was possibly beyond their control. And we sympathize with the authors on that. If that's the case, the readers you want to reach, the ones for whom your book was written, will most likely dig deeper.

On the other hand, if you're not reaching the readers you want to reach due of something like the cover, it's more likely a publishing or marketing issue. A book's cover can be used to place it in a specific category and appeal to a specific demographic. It isn't the reader's problem whether the cover matches the substance of the book or not. They're simply reaping the benefits of the industry. Many of them are unaware of what takes place behind the scenes.


Readers will continue to read and judge based on a variety of criteria. The cover is simply one of several things taken into consideration. It, like other components of a book, contains important information about the story contained within. It is awful advice to disregard it. Why not try evaluating a book by its cover instead? Maybe the next time you browse the shelves of your local bookshop or scan through the thousands of titles available online, you'll choose books solely based on their covers. You never know, that might be all the information you need to decide whether or not to give that book a try.


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