Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

Does a cover really have that much influence on whether or not we choose to read a book?

The New York Times recently published an article about new book covers being created for ‘classic’ novels to attract young-adult readers.

“The new versions are cutting-edge replacements for the traditional (read: stuffy, boring) covers that have been a trademark of the classics for decades: those familiar, dour depictions of women wearing frilly clothing. In their place are images like the one of Romeo in stubble and a tight white tank top on a new Penguin edition of Romeo and Juliet.”

Book covers are what we first see when we walk into a bookshop. They’re part of the commercial appeal: what subconsciously draws us in and, ultimately, entices us to buy the product. Earlier this week, I wrote a post about J.K. Rowling’s new book cover of The Casual Vacancy which hit the headlines all over the world, many remarking upon its simplicity.

Covers, of course, should capture the essence of the story within, but not turn the reader off. When I was 14, we studied Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë in school. My copy of the novel had an unimaginative cover and small font, with massive footnotes on each page. Being the reader I am, I devoured each word, always turning to the back to read up on what each footnote meant. But, before long, my enjoyment of the book had completely evaporated, as about halfway through I drowned in the overwhelming information written by literary experts on the meaning behind every phrase.

However, I recently stumbled upon a version of Wuthering Heights with one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen, designed as part of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions and created with watercolour, pencil and ink by internationally acclaimed fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo.

Wuthering Heights. Image courtesy of Wicked Wonderful Words.

The first words in every chapter were intricately designed and the font was far easier to read. Not only that, but the effort that was put in to the cover’s design alone made me want to give Wuthering Heights another go.

This time, I finished it in a day and a half.

“Toledo’s book design for Penguin Classics represents the marriage of art and fashion to literature,” says the publishing company. “His couture-inspired interpretations of these beloved classic characters and novels contribute a uniquely creative vision to the long history of excellence in book design at Penguin.”

How much influence do covers have on your decision to buy a book? Comment below!

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