Post: Readers do judge a book by its cover

book cover

A recent survey revealed that more than half of the people who read hard-copy books make their purchase choices based on jacket design. Remember when you were growing up and adults would instruct you to “never judge a book by its cover”? Well, they were definitely speaking figuratively, because in the literal sense, it appears that that’s exactly what most people do! At least, they choose books by judging their covers!

In fact, many readers who participated in the survey said that they don’t even care who the author of a particular book is when deciding what to read. They simply look at the book cover and decide if they want to know what’s inside. Data also shows some interesting trends. 

If a book cover is dark and moody, people will want to read the book

By and large, “dark and moody” book covers seem to be the most popular type of design for attracting readers based on jacket art. On the other hand, readers tend to shy away if a book cover contains certain images. If you’re a budding author who is currently writing a book and getting ready to design a cover, you might want to think twice before using images of animals or men; these two things reportedly chase readers away. 

Book position on a shelf in a store sometimes hides the jacket

There’s a reason authors prefer their books to be placed on store shelves with their full covers facing outward. Potential readers can’t see the cover design if only the spine of the book is showing. Since many bookstores position selections with spines showing, authors must hope that readers will pull books from the shelves to look at their cover designs. 

Being a good writer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re qualified for cover design

As an author, avoid automatically assuming that because you have a written a particular story, you know what the book jacket should look like. A publisher is typically better suited to making final decisions on book cover designs. In fact, your publisher will either hire a graphic artist or have one on staff who will handle the project. Since publishing your book is a team effort, your publisher will no doubt seek your thoughts and opinions when your book cover is in its design stages. 

Visual impact doesn’t always trump reader loyalty

It’s a fact that many people choose what books they want to read based on the book cover alone. There are, however, also readers who are loyal to their favorite authors, no matter what a specific book jacket happens to look like. These readers search for their favorite author’s name and buy the book whether they like the cover design or not. 

If you hope to earn an income writing books, it behooves you to become familiar with the book cover design process, including what elements help to create a quality jacket that will attract readers’ attention. Have you ever chosen a book to read based solely on its cover?