I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Monday, December 8, 2008

You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover

Each year, the Book Design Review posts its list of the best book covers of the year. Here is the link to further information on the winners.

How does this help with your RA service though? You'd be surprised how much a cover tells you about the text to be found within its pages. My colleague, Joyce Saricks has argued this point to me many times. The most important thing to keep in mind as you help readers is that the cover tells the reader what the publisher (not necessarily the author) wants us to know about the book. The book cover is a marketing tool, and as Readers' Advisors we should "read" book covers to try to decipher the appeal factors which the cover is trying to convey.

For example, books which feature the author's name more prominently than the title, are being sold on the popularity of said author's name, not necessarily on the content. Also, more complicated and abstract covers, tend to be put on more complicated and abstract books. There are also cover trends. A few years ago, all chick-lit books featured a pastel color theme with some kind of shoes on the cover; so finding readalikes was as easy as looking at the cover.

These are just a few examples, but if you want to test the theory, grab a couple of your favorite books and see how the cover reflects the story held within. What assumptions can be made about the book's context from the cover? I think you will be surprised at how much of the book you CAN judge by its cover.

Also, don't forget to put as many books as you can "face out" on your shelves to have the marketing power of the book cover work for your patrons.

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