The Teens Can Write Too! prompt this month is “Let’s face it; we all judge books by their covers. What kind of covers grab you? Why? Be sure to use examples of your favorite book covers.” I managed to get myself early on in the schedule, before I forget, but just in case I’m going to write this a day early and save it. Better to be safe than sorry. You never know what might happen to the internet tomorrow.
I’m not going to deny that covers influence my decision on whether or not to read a book, but actually, to be entirely truthful, it’s not usually covers that initially attract me to books – it’s titles.
Because I spend a lot of time in libraries, I look at the spine of most books before I see the covers. If something has a great title, I’ll be likely to pick it up and look at the blurb. Whereas if I’m looking at books for my Kindle, I’ll be on Amazon, so I’ll see the cover first… just one of the ways in which my e-book reading habits are different to my print book reading habits.
However, a cover can often have the opposite effect – it can often put me off. For example, there is a book I have seen in the Teens section of my library recently called ‘You Against Me’. Now, my first thought when I read that title is conflict, fights, perhaps best friends turning and attacking each other, or family feuds. And yet the cover is this:
I have no idea what this book is about, but it looks to my like it’s going to have a strong element of romance and/or sex, therefore I’m instantly put off, because that doesn’t interest me. The title and the cover conjured different images in my mind.
On the other hand, some covers are helpful.
When I was in Foyles a couple of years ago (a large bookshop in London, for Americans or other aliens) I saw a book called Lament. I was at the time obsessed with all things Irish, including Lord of the Dance, and a piece of music on the soundtrack that I really liked was called ‘Lament’. Even so, I would have passed it by if it weren’t for the fact that it had a four-leaved clover/shamrock on the spine. My mind instantly connected the dots – it was about music, and it was about something Celtic, and it probably didn’t have a happy ending, and I picked it up. The front cover was pretty minimal. It had a knife on it.
I was first attracted to this book because of the title, but if the cover hadn’t hinted to me that it’d be related to Ireland or Celtic themes, I wouldn’t have looked any further.
By the way, Maggie Stiefvater became one of my favourite authors that day. The UK edition, which was released later, isn’t half bad either. To my mind, both of them accurately sum up the essence and the mood of the book. One is black, which suggests morbidity; the other is red and has trailing black spatters, which somehow hint at death in the same way. The dove and the clovers (which are actually shamrocks) make it seem otherworldy. The knife and the cage both represent the character Luke – danger and imprisonment.
I don’t know whether I’d have picked it up with the UK cover for the reasons I picked up the US edition I own, but I really like it. (All Maggie’s covers are pretty nice, to be honest. Check out the UK edition of The Scorpio Races)
Then there are books which have multiple covers. The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, for example. The edition of this I first read was black, with a dragon (to my knowledge, designed by Tolkien, though I could be wrong), in red. In fact, it looked like this:
It was a hardback, large print edition because that was the only one that the library had. I was desperate to read it and would have taken it whatever cover it had.
Later, I read it again, from a different library. And it had this cover:
It’s a sign of how many different covers this book has had that it took me ages to find this particular one, but this is the one my primary school’s library owned. It shows Bilbo, half invisible, meeting the dragon Smaug. Yay.
Now, as you can see here, I was borrowing this book from the library. Why? Because our family’s copy went missing when I was very young. But on that same trip to Foyles, I bought myself a copy, and I had a choice of several covers. The one I chose was this one:
It’s beautiful. The design goes all the way around the front and back covers. It’s an illustration that LOOKS like an illustration, which I’ve always liked – not a pretend photo, if you see what I mean. I like illustration. Illustration is good. Did I mention that I like books that have illustrated covers? They’re dying out with all the stock photos being used these days, and it’s true it’s easier to make those look professional, but guys – illustration is GOOD if you can pull it off. Remember that.
Just in case you were wondering, the edition of the Lord of the Rings that I read and which my family still owns is so old that I’m searching the whole internet to try and find an image but haven’t managed it yet. I can’t take my own because our copies are (a) falling apart, which would make a photo pretty unclear, and (b) currently being read by either my mum or my dad who’ve both realised how long it was since they last read the books. I mean, it was eight years for me, but… yep, they’ve stolen them all.
… still looking for a picture …
Found one! So, we have these as a boxed set. Apparently they’re from 1974 – they were my mum’s. Anyway, I hear they’re pretty rare these days, but as our copies are, as I said, falling to pieces, they’re not going to be worth much. Nevertheless, this is the edition I know and love, and will always be my favourite (though there are some seriously classy versions out there).
I really like Tolkien covers generally. Leaving aside the runes (which are cool), they’re almost always ILLUSTRATED. Not stock photos. Not movie tie-ins. (I’ve never seen a movie tie-in LotR book. I’m assuming they exist, but I have never seen one.) They are ILLUSTRATED.
So basically, I like illustrated book covers. Anyway, I’ve rambled on for long enough and not really said anything worthwhile (my posts are always the longest on the TCWT chain, it’s bad) – here’s the rest of the chain!
(TCWT admins – next time, can you make sure the list on your blog chain page is hyperlinked? I had to go through and turn all of these into links… people are more likely to read them if they’re links! Cheers *grin*)
June 8– http://hazelwrites.wordpress.com –hazelwrites
June 9– http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com –A Farewell To Sanity
June 10– http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com –This Page Intentionally Left Blank
June 11– http://laughablog.wordpress.com –The Zebra Clan
June 12– http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com –You Didn’t Really Need To Know This…
June 13– http://otherrandomthings.wordpress.com –Dragons, Unicorns, and Other Random Things
June 14– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com –Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish
June 15– http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com –Kirsten Writes!
June 16– http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com –Lily’s Notes in the Margins
June 17– http://inklinedwriters.blogspot.com –Inklined
June 18– http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com –Reality Is Imaginary
June 19– http://planetaryelastic.blogspot.com –Tangential Bemusings
June 20– http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com –Musings From Neville’s Navel
June 21– http://allegradavis.wordpress.com –All I Need Is A Keyboard
June 22– http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com –The Incessant Droning Of A Bored Writer
June 23– http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)