I have a bone to pick with the world. It’s about the phrase: ‘Never judge a Book by its cover’. Before I launch into my rant (and this will be a rant), I should mention that when applied to people, this phrase makes perfect sense. It is wrong to dismiss someone due to their appearance etc etc.
However, when applied to actual books, this phrase grates on me. We all judge books by their covers. Don’t lie to me, I know you have. Picture this. You’re in a bookshop, wandering around the sections looking for something new to buy. You narrow it down to a certain section. How do you choose ‘blindly’ (i.e. if you’re not basing your decisions on buying authors you know are good, books recommended to you, best sellers etc). The cover. The cover will matter because it will speak to you- it’s not about the ‘beauty’ of it i.e. it’s not about whether it’s been well produced or not, it’s about what it says. If you see an old battered copy of something made of vellum-like paper and you’re in to old books, you’re probably going to pick it up. If you’re in to fantasy and there’s a magnificent sketch of a dragon, don’t tell me that you don’t pick it up. If you see a vampire on the cover you may enter a fit of rage and simply burn the book right there. But I digress.
The covers of books are like clothes, not personalities. They are the book’s ‘sunday best’. That doesn’t mean that bad covers mean bad books, or that good covers make good ones, or that books should or are chosen purely on the merit of their cover, but after all to judge means: to form an opinion or evaluation. And in those first faltering moments of choice and indecision, we do make a judgement. Of course this is quickly superceeded by whether the title is good or not, reading the blurb and (in my case) the first chapter. And much like people we may find that a pretty face (whether in shiny new 20th century form or in crumbling, gorgeous old-book fun) masks an emptiness and general boredom, but the judgement is still made in that moment before you pick up the book.
I know that this seems rather pedantic- after all, I am making only a slight distinction in relation to the very initial, two second judgement that we make of a book, rather than actually forming an opinion of the book based on its appearance- which I am sure that no self-respecting book lover would actually do. But ultimately, I cannot help but think that book covers do play a huge part in making blind book decisions. Rant over. BookBimbo out.