The importance of a great book cover (and some thoughts on judging and other psych things)

We’re all guilty of judging a book on its cover (don’t even try to say you don’t, I won’t believe you). It’s build in our brains to judge based on people’s looks and that’s the same for books. Judging is not always a bad thing, even though it is usually seen as so. For example, imagine you’re walking through a dark alleyway, and there’s a person coming at you. You have a few milliseconds to decide, is this person a danger to you, or not? Those few milliseconds could determine everything, will the person kill you (or harm you) or will they just pass by? Of course judging is not always this essential, it also helps you in your daily life. If you’re approaching someone, their looks usually tell a lot about what type of person they are. That information can help you in having a conversation.

In judging people, you are usually attracted to people who are similar to you, because that is evolutionary useful (genes and stuff). So what makes a person, or in this case book cover, interesting depends on you as a person. When you see a book cover, in those few milliseconds your brain already has a judgement ready. It decides whether this is worth your attention or not.

So when you’ve written an amazing book, it would be sad if nobody bought it because they thought the cover wasn’t beautiful enough. And I think we have all experienced that you bought a book, which such a beautiful cover, and then when you read the book it is hugely disappointing. But why do we expect that a beautiful cover means a great book? Of course there are some factors that are related to this, for example if something is published by a large company they are more likely to get a great artist to do the cover art. But, that does not explain why our expectations rise when a cover is good.

A concept in psychology that explains this, is the halo effect. According to wikipedia: The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. When we see something we think is good, we expect that the product, or person, is overall good. This also explains why a good first impression is so important. If a book does not have a beautiful cover, we immediately have lower standards for the book itself. But when it has a bad cover, we are unlikely to pick it up at the first place, but then if we start reading it, it has to overcome some sort of threshold to make up for the bad cover. I can’t be the only one that feels that way?

A few things that I believe make a good cover:

  • The cover fits the book. Nothing is worse than expecting to read about for example a cute story about family, and find out that it is actually vampire-werewolf erotica. A super plus is when there are easter eggs hidden, small hints that you only get when you read the book (like on Lauren Destefano’s The Chemical Garden series)
  • Artwork. Personally, I don’t really like photos (especially not of people) on a cover, so beautiful artwork is a must!
  • Typography. I can stare for hours at a cover with stunning typography (also I am 10 times more likely to buy a book with typography on it, I did not measure this btw).
  • Colour scheme. I can’t stand it when books have mismatching colours!
  • Consistency. This is so important for series! Keep the style consistent (and the size too!), use the same fonts, colours and artwork style.

A few examples that I think fit (almost) all my criteria:

That was all I could come up with, what makes a good cover for you? Sorry for all the psychology babbling, but I hope you enjoyed it!



Also, no TTT today because I got stuck after 1 book, so I thought it best not to continue and struggle my way through finding 10 books.

16 thoughts on “The importance of a great book cover (and some thoughts on judging and other psych things)

  1. I’m so glad you brought ths topic up. A few days ago (actually, yesterday) I was watching a video on Youtube. Though i can remember the name, it was greatly interesting. It discussed how our mind and body have the need to match. It explained that, as we grow, we become more slef aware of our looks. For example you know, or think, that short people with glasses are book worms, geeky, and insignificant and quiet. If you fit that descripton, you will gradually mould your personality into what people are supposed to think of you. It ended with something about how we should start looking past peope’s looks (cliche, i know) and maybe other people will do the same.
    Maybe our expectations mould to fit the standard of a book cover. Lovely post and sorry for rambling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder about that surprisingly often, whether we mold ourselves so we fit into the stereotypes that people expect us to fit into. Would I have been a different person if I would look differently? People’s expectations can influence a person so much, even unconsciously. I’m not sure that “looking past a look” is as easy as it sounds though.
      Such an interesting topic to think about!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My copies of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy don’t match either! The covers do though, but the sizes don’t! I especially ordered editions from the same publisher and all, but their heights all mismatch! So annoying.


  2. I love this discussion topic! I think it resonates with a large number of readers. To judge a book by the cover is supposed to be a no-no, but it’s inevitable. It’s just how the mind works. I can’t help to pick up a book because of a stunning cover, and unfortunately, this has gotten me into some trouble: the cover’s gorgeous but the story, not so much haha. The one thing that really annoys me, though, are the covers that don’t match or have nothing to do with the story. So misleading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually base a lot of my judgement whether I will read a book or not on a cover, since I don’t usually read the synopsis before starting and sometimes that ends up with very surprising things. My expectations of a book sometimes don’t match at all with what the book is about and that is annoying even if I enjoyed the book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A great discussion point, because that is just how our brain works and I don’t think it is that bad to judge a book by its cover (The covers of the books you have chosen are so pretty btw). But in the end it does come down to personal preference, if you dislike a cover doesn’t mean everyone else will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that’s absolutely right, sometimes I see someone else say which covers are their favourites and I don’t even find them to be pretty. So everybody has their own way of looking at things!

      Liked by 1 person

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