Judging a book by its cover

Posted on August 27th, 2009 by O'DB in the Forest


Enjoy books & reading, but have an almost OCD necessity to read newspapers & the acres of supplements that accompany them (at weekends). In a late summer pique of chucking out the cr*p I’ve just thrown out months’ worth of weekend supplements that have been piling up beside the sofa, softly but constantly nagging to be read.

Next: some decent books, with engaging characters, plot-lines & depth; something that’ll stay with me longer than the ephemeral articles & weekly reportage pieces.


Shepard Fairey, a street artist, who ¬†increased his public profile with his iconic ‘Hope’ Obama posters during the US elections last year, was commissioned by Penguin to design book covers for two of George Orwell’s classic novels ’1984′ & ‘Animal Farm’. Both are stunning pieces of design & art, & based on this I bought them & sit waiting to be read. Soon; this week, promise.

May seem a shallow move to some, but as a fan of Shepard Fairey’s art & George Orwell’s writing the two together seemed a perfect package.

Would cover art be enough to sway you or am I just a simple mind swayed by pretty colours, the proverbial marketing man’s dream?

Books in this particular example, but the loss of cover art on old album sleeves, or gatefold art, has long been cited as one of the losses with modern music packaging (1st the smaller CD packaging & then just electronically as MP3 files on your computer … though iTunes with their cover-flow capability are trying to re-invent some of the cover-art aesthetics).

11 Responses to “Judging a book by its cover”

  1. Those are great covers indeed. Almost a retro look.
    I definitely think the artwork adds to the attraction of a book. There are some that I would read regardless, but I am always drawn to books with interesting or eye-catching covers for sure.

    We are sensory creatures after all.

    Nice post.
    .-= Angela in Canada´s last blog ..The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling. =-.

    • O'DB says:

      Sensory creatures indeed. The tactility appeals, too.

      I also thought about this in terms of book covers & their potentially numbered days due to e-book readers (like Amazon’s Kindl) killing the art & design of book covers, much like CDs & MP3s seemed to potentially kill music album/gatefold art (though, as mentioned, iTunes’ cover-flow seems to try & buck this trend?).

  2. Jim says:


    Judging a book by its cover – I’ll buy a book based on that but always remove the dust sleeve when I read it – often binning the cover…..

    I guess music et al is sanitsied now with the quick fix of ‘let me watch it’ as the plastic Asda car park issued Chinese DVD wrapper is discarded and another ‘I hope
    it plays’ dodgy CD watched n viewed….

    Can’t beat the smell of a new book, album or CD as we walk away from the sensory aspects…

  3. ethicaleater says:

    A good front cover will call me over for further inspection which may result in a purchase. It’s the first line of attraction you get when walking into a book store.
    Shame how CD covers doesn’t have the same impact as album art. I can remember spending hours looking at and reading albums cover to cover, so much info there, an education in itself.
    .-= ethicaleater´s last blog ..islefaye updated the "Profile Questions round 1" information on their profile =-.

  4. Oh, how I miss the art of album covers!!! I’m getting older too, so the CD’s are hard to read. And, I usually do what Jim does…taking off the cover, so as not to damage it. But, I need the actual book…the feel, the smell, the look…no taste or hearing though. Oh, and the smell of new vinyl…may be rememberance of the past!!
    .-= Clinically Clueless´s last blog ..Reality Invades Denial & Fantasy =-.

  5. Gareth in Thailand says:

    I know what you are getting at but to be hoonest a book cover never draws me in these days. I did get had by inviting covers years back but after buying a few awful books I am much wiser.
    As for e readers, I do use my phone/pda for news but rely on real books for poolside & in flight reading.

    My recomendation if you want a good funny read in the next few days – Getting rid of Mr Kitchen by Charles Higgson.You won’t regret it.

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