Friday, January 28, 2011

Judging a Book by its Cover

Though considered inspirational and perhaps even motivational the old saying doesn't really carry the literal weight it used to in my opinion.  Before books had relatively plain covers and the more they were read, the more worn out they were.  A book could look ugly but that could mean it was a great read.  Nowadays bookcovers are, for lack of a better word, covered from edge to edge in fancy bright and eyecatching art.  They are all competing to stay afloat in a sea of published works.  This brings me to the title of my post.  I am guilty of judging books by their cover and I don't feel...guilty at all about it.  :smileywink:


There are many, many books out there that capture my attention.  I enjoy many different genres.  One of which is Science Fiction which to my dismay is usually jammed and blended with Fantasy in book stores.  (Even in the nook e-book store its crammed in with Horror as well.  :smileymad:)  But I digress.

As a fan of GOOD Science Fiction I am the first to admit that there are a LOT of really bad and corny stories out there.  I use the covers as a warning.  If the book as hart with a half naked woman with a gun, its probably not worth reading.  It seems that many of these books try to compensate for terrible literature with eye catching covers.  I usually look paste the especially terrible ones.

Yes I know its a shame and I can potentially lose out on a great novel but when I am window shopping, I can't help but let my instincts guid me.  Of course if a book comes recommended I won't deny myself from reading the back or the first chapter.  More often than not however, those books with terrible art reflect the ridiculous content inside.  This can be applied to other genres as well of course.  Sometimes the titles alone are so pompous I take it as a warning.  If the title proclaims that it is the ultimate of anything it has a lot to live up to.  If it is a relatively unheard of novel that didn't receive rave reviews chances are it failed so those claims are now emblazoned on its cover like an embarrassing scar.

I understand the desire for a clean minimalist title but when you have a name like "The ____" you expect that book to be the be all end all for that topic.  The encyclopedia of that _____. When it comes to books with simple titles like that I put a lot of weight on that second word.  Now of course this isn't fail-proof as history has shown.  Titles like "I, Robot" would NEVER have caught my attention.  This book below would never have been read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As I get older however, my time becomes ever more precious and I have to choose the investments carefully.  I am a completionist and there is nothing worse than knowing you have 600+ pages to go on a terrible story with a protagonist named Captain Gunblaze.