I know we all are familiar with the idiom "you can't judge a book by its cover," but to take it literally anymore may be a mistake.
Publishers are getting much better at trying to sell the appeal of a book with its cover. You can tell the genre and tone/mood of most fiction just by looking at the book's cover. Also, publishers include appeal info on the flaps and in the blurbs on the back covers. With so little time to sell a book to a patron, using the cover to help us divine clues about what is between those covers, is a helpful RA tool in and of itself.
I now spend time each semester talking to my students about how to use the cover to help you and your patrons. But I am not the only one doing this. At PLA this March, Michael Gannon will be presenting "Readers' Advisory for Dummies: Yes, You CAN Judge a Book By Its Cover." If you will be there, I would highly suggest going to this program.
We already know how good covers help books. Amazon has annual poll of the best book covers. But, tomorrow, the NY Times Book Review is going to have this article about how bad covers can hurt a great book.
So, go ahead, start judging books by their covers. I do. But understand that you can't tell how good or bad the book is by its cover. It is more a guide for the genre and tone/mood. But those two appeals will help you to better help your readers.
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