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Do you judge a book by its cover?

The phrase is thrown around a lot as an everyday saying about judging a person’s personality based on looks, but what does it mean to judge a book by its cover in the literal sense? Without even realising, we probably do this more than we would care to admit.

Recently there’s been an in increase in book stalls, however, they’re slightly different to your usual book sales as you don’t know what you’re buying. Instead of liking the look of a book people are encouraged to choose books that appeal to them based on the content, with the covers being covered by plain or generic paper that either has nothing on the front or a short summary or review, removing any preconceptions that buyers may have.

The image on the front of the novel usually gives a lot away about the plot. Before we even pick a book up and turn it over for the blurb, we have decided whether it is for us from the picture or the general presentation of it, whether it’s a new book in a bookshop or a second hand one you’ve been given. Although we may all claim we don’t judge a book by it’s cover, when browsing the shop it’s usually not the scruffy books we choose, although these are probably the best ones, as those most read usually prove that they’re a good story! I encourage anyone to pick up a book that’s worn or looks like it’s been well loved, as you’re sure to find the classics or just a good story.

Some people really don’t like certain types of books however, with many people being either lovers of contemporary novels, or others who enjoy more classical pieces. You could say literature is like Marmite, and the idea of walking into a shop and picking up a random book to try something different is an experiment which probably wouldn’t work, as it is your eyes which lead you and are drawn towards books which appeal. Covering the book covers themselves seems to be a better idea, well it’s either that or sending you into a shop blindfolded and seeing how you get on!

In judging the book’s cover are we judging the author or the artist of the image? If the book has an image which isn’t particularly great or appealing we instantly decide that the writing will reflect this, however the artist and author are not one in the same, and we never stop to think that it’s not the author’s involvement in the image which doesn’t thrill us. In this way, we’re epitomising the saying and all that’s left to do is make every book blank apart from the title to make it fair in the book war for sales and readership.

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