Matching Covers and Concepts

I think we’ve all been fooled by bad covers. I’m not entirely sure who’s responsible for lining up cover, back cover text, and the story within, but they don’t always do a great job. I’m in the process of reading a book where this is clear: the front cover seems to promise some twisted science fiction, and the back cover text a straight adventure, but the author informs me it’s a character study.

I guess this is just a short note to say: not judging a book by its cover is difficult. When I expect one thing but get another, it colors my entire perception of the project.

Take this little novel for example:

Now, looking at that cover I’d probably think “bad romance.” The thing is, I know the author. I’ve read a good chunk of his books. He does fantastic fantasy, usually with a strong Christian bent. His Pendragon Cycle is fantastic! I actually own this book in this edition, but I’ve been embarrassed to read it lest someone think I like bad romances.

On the other hand, check out this cover for the exact same book:

I’m FAR more interested in reading this… simply because the wrapping is better.

Does that make me shallow? I’m not entirely sure. I know that a cover is supposed to convey a core idea from within the book. It might communicate the mood of the story. It might portray a key scene. It might simply show off some stock images that tell us what genre the novel falls under. But it does need to match up, because the cover creates expectations. When my expectations for  type of story aren’t met, it creates frustration.

Maybe it would be better if we went back to a system where the cover simply showed the title of the book and the author. Nice, bland, creme covers… and let the words inside tell everything you need to know.

One thought on “Matching Covers and Concepts

  1. If covers are done right, they can attract to the book. If they don’t apply to the book, it often irritates me because my expectations don’t live up with the book. Simple covers are often good enough for real readers. Bland covers, though, are a different story. I can’t stand them. There were times when I wanted to read a book but people told me no because there was graphic images on the front. The book didn’t even talk about those things!

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