can you judge a book by it's cover?

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I didn't like the cover for "Lovely Bones"- I mean, what does that charm bracelet have to do with anything?

flacajax, Saturday, 3 January 2004 07:40 (twenty years ago) link

What you can judge by a book's cover is what the publisher thinks might be attractive to the audience they are targeting. Hence, when Raymond Chandler was first published in paperback his covers were only a bit less garish than Mickey Spillane's.

Aimless, Saturday, 3 January 2004 18:41 (twenty years ago) link

I had a friend who refused to read my copy of Joy Williams' Breaking And Entering until he taped another picture he cut out of a magazine over the paperback's cheesy 80's jacket art.

scott seward (scott seward), Saturday, 3 January 2004 18:43 (twenty years ago) link

as much as i dislike eggers, I love his cover for velocity, with the first line on the cover. although anyone who tries to read a remainder copy might have some problems.

looks like the paperback version is different.

Catty (Catty), Monday, 5 January 2004 13:22 (twenty years ago) link

having worked in bookstores for over ten years now i can tell you that while it may be true that one can't or shouldn't judge a book by its cover people usually *do* anyways

jam, Monday, 5 January 2004 15:42 (twenty years ago) link

having worked in bookstores for over ten years now i can tell you that while it may be true that one can't or shouldn't judge a book by its cover people usually *do* anyways

Contender for best thing said on ILX evah?

Johnney B (Johnney B), Monday, 5 January 2004 19:41 (twenty years ago) link

Ironically the opening sentece to "...Velocity" is really ugly and garbled - the good writing starts a few pages in but if i had judged it from the first couple of pages i wouldn't have continued.

jed_ (jed), Monday, 5 January 2004 21:36 (twenty years ago) link

"good writing"?!?!?!?!? OK, I'm starting a new thread.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 5 January 2004 22:12 (twenty years ago) link

You can certainly judge many bad books to be bad by their covers. The trick is weeding the fun bad out of the merely bad. Of course, I say this as someone who does not worship Micky Spillane.

Michael Jacobs, Sunday, 11 January 2004 14:09 (twenty years ago) link

The problem I find is that too many books have beautifully designed covers these days. Obviously trashy airport fiction can be recognized a mile off with it's big embossed gold lettering, what I'm talking about is the racks and racks of "literary" fiction with their lovely matt covers, beautiful typography, enigmatic imagery and of course, the words "A NOVEL" in small caps spaced out very wide. They're all so fucking precious looking I'm starting to hate them.

LondonLee (LondonLee), Sunday, 11 January 2004 15:10 (twenty years ago) link


jed_ (jed), Sunday, 11 January 2004 16:03 (twenty years ago) link

I do love the paperback cover of "Middlesex"

LondonLee (LondonLee), Sunday, 11 January 2004 21:44 (twenty years ago) link

one year passes...

Gambling SPAM, how ironic.

As someone who has worked with the book trade for about sixteen years, I'd say you were delusional if you think you can't judge a book by it's cover.

It never fails....

Land Ho (dymaxia), Sunday, 7 August 2005 22:31 (eighteen years ago) link

Can you judge a thread by it's typos?

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 8 August 2005 21:29 (eighteen years ago) link

Maybe, but its not clear.

k/l (Ken L), Monday, 8 August 2005 21:33 (eighteen years ago) link

When your hott, your hott.

k/l (Ken L), Monday, 8 August 2005 23:52 (eighteen years ago) link

As I begin to read more mid-20th Century British novels, I find it's a fairly safe bet that if the publisher has seen fit to use a painting or drawing by Eric Ravilious or David Jones or (even) Stanley Spencer on the front, I'll be enjoyign the contents.

Yes, they've got me. I'm not proud.

Tim (Tim), Tuesday, 9 August 2005 08:38 (eighteen years ago) link

Mm, I love Eric Ravilious (mostly because I'm a sad old provincial who gets a thrill out of paintings of the South Downs, I suspect.)

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 9 August 2005 08:55 (eighteen years ago) link

That show at the IWM was so extraordinarily good. The little-used art galleries on the second floor there are particular favourite spot of mine.

Tim (Tim), Tuesday, 9 August 2005 08:58 (eighteen years ago) link

I really wish I could find a picture of the old paperback edition I have of Nabokov's "Glory," for this thread.

Basically after the success of Lolita, publishers started trying to market all of N's novels like they were trashy romances.

Hurting (Hurting), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 03:16 (eighteen years ago) link

I've always kinda liked the cover to this edition of Barthelme's 60 Stories, since, to me, it looks like the cover of a cheesy romance when it's just about anything but:

would you please stop screaming? (pr00de), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 07:58 (eighteen years ago) link

The gold's really shiny in person, too.

would you please stop screaming? (pr00de), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 07:59 (eighteen years ago) link

Ha! That's fantastic.

My girlfriend actually would not read the movie edition (the only copy available at the local B&N at the time) of "Possession" that I got her as a gift, even though she really wanted to read it, and borrowed another copy instead.

I was not insulted, however, because I completely understood.

Hurting (Hurting), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 15:01 (eighteen years ago) link

Wow, it's like Danielle Bart-Steelme.

Archel (Archel), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 15:11 (eighteen years ago) link

My favourite Barthelme cover (by Edward Gorey!)

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 10 August 2005 15:53 (eighteen years ago) link

[spam deleted]

spammer, Monday, 15 August 2005 09:05 (eighteen years ago) link

Viagra makes some good points there.

Here's one book I would judge by its cover:

Because it really is a slightly dated seventies story.

I'm a sucker for any books with pictures of ships on the cover.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Monday, 15 August 2005 09:33 (eighteen years ago) link

Olde-style writing, like 17th century pamphlets, you know the kind of thing, completely sucks me in every time.

Markelby (Mark C), Monday, 15 August 2005 16:22 (eighteen years ago) link

Nipper that is marvellous!

tom west (thomp), Monday, 15 August 2005 18:01 (eighteen years ago) link

haha Sam Waterston and (is it?) Jenny Agutter.

jed_ (jed), Monday, 15 August 2005 21:42 (eighteen years ago) link


[p o k e r s p a m], Tuesday, 16 August 2005 01:52 (eighteen years ago) link

It is Jed. From the Major Motion Picture! of which I have never heard. The interesting thing (for me) about this book as an object is that the cover really does tell you a lot about this book. There's nothing like a cheap Fontana paperback with a photographed cover (which I have also badly photographed, how meta is that?) to conjure up images of the seventies, and that's exactly what this book is like. The further away I get from this book, the more I like it.

Beryl Bainbridge is great.

My current favourite cover in our house, though, is this one:

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 06:18 (eighteen years ago) link

For me, as a bookseller, it's vital to be able to judge some things about a book by its cover. I haven't time to read the back of everything to figure out if it's crime or non-fiction, or romance, or My Kind Of Book (see above). If the cover doesn't tell me immediately, I get a bit cross.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 06:20 (eighteen years ago) link

Similarly, I had a film tie-in edition of The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, which I got rid of because I couldn't stand Kris Kristofferson's hairy visage any more. But now I quite miss it.

Especially compared with some generic wishy-washy cover like this one:

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 07:33 (eighteen years ago) link

Sadly I can't find my Kris cover online anywhere, either :(

I wish I was an ILB moderator, then I could remove the extraneous apostrophe from the thread title; it gives me pain every time I look at it. [Obsessiveness such as this is a very good reason why I shouldn't be a moderator, obv.]

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 11:22 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm sure if you ask Chris very nicely, he would do it for you.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 13:08 (eighteen years ago) link


jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 14:05 (eighteen years ago) link

He's not gonna do it, I don't think, not even for Archel. If nothing else, it would ruin the joke he made about it upthread.

k/l (Ken L), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 14:07 (eighteen years ago) link

No, it's not a fair request. Now if I had started the thread myself and was tormented my my own mistake... but no reason why other people should be edited just because I'm a freak.

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 14:20 (eighteen years ago) link

Let's start another thread, a perfect thread, where there'll be no war and no typoes and no traffic accidents...

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 15:02 (eighteen years ago) link

And this thread will be another board, pastoral and idyllic, and we'll call it I Love Film.

k/l (Ken L), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 15:05 (eighteen years ago) link

"on" another board. I guess I'm still posting in the same old world until we get that other thread created.

k/l (Ken L), Tuesday, 16 August 2005 15:06 (eighteen years ago) link


online casino, Thursday, 18 August 2005 01:37 (eighteen years ago) link

I think it's interesting the way the same books are marketed differently in the UK and the US. When I go into a bookshop in the States, my eye is drawn to not a single cover that looks at all interesting. Whereas in Waterstone's or whatever I can barely make it past the special offers table. Obviously it's just a marketing style I'm used to, but I can't identify what it might consist of.

Sam (chirombo), Thursday, 18 August 2005 12:33 (eighteen years ago) link

[le spam]

pacific poker bonus, Saturday, 20 August 2005 21:50 (eighteen years ago) link

[more spam.]

on line texas holdem poker, Sunday, 21 August 2005 06:45 (eighteen years ago) link

Uh, I think I just made it so that you have to be a registered user to post to this thread. My apologies to those of you who are not registered users. No apologies to the spammers.

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 21 August 2005 23:55 (eighteen years ago) link

five years pass...
seven years pass...

Welcome to the Bold and Blocky Instagram Era of Book Covers

mookieproof, Thursday, 31 January 2019 20:29 (five years ago) link

three years pass...

Terrible Alison Bechdel cover for Woolf ahoy:

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Thursday, 1 September 2022 09:24 (one year ago) link

I want to read that foreword..

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 1 September 2022 12:29 (one year ago) link

i no longer need to read the novel: bechdel mission accomplished!

mark s, Thursday, 1 September 2022 12:38 (one year ago) link

oh no. i mean i admire the daring, in a way. deluxe edition lol.

Fizzles, Thursday, 1 September 2022 14:31 (one year ago) link


It was the best of covers, it was the worst of covers…

— Shalyn Claggett (@BadVictorianist) August 31, 2022

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 1 September 2022 20:46 (one year ago) link

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