Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Impressions in a Literary Sense

Whenever I hear the phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover", the first thing I hear is a song from Thomas the Tank Engine that I last heard when I was probably about six. If that phrase turns up in a TV show about trains intended for preschoolers, it's probably worth listening to, right?

However, I disagree. Covers and titles of books are pretty much the first impression a book makes on its reader. Think about it this way: When a girl goes to a job interview, she doesn't show up in sweats with her hair unbrushed and smelling like she hasn't taken a shower in three days. She makes herself look nice, wears clean clothes, and makes sure to present herself in a way that is sure to impress the interviewer. In the end, is whether or not she gets the job based on which sweater she wore? No, mostly. Whether or not she gets the job is based on her qualifications, personality, and experience. Her first impression, however, can make or break it the moment she steps in the room. 

I see book covers and titles as job interviews for books. If a boy walks into a book store, he will likely first pick up a book that has an interesting cover or a catchy title. He'll probably read the back or the inside cover or even the first few pages to see if it is something he would like to read. If it's not, he'll put it back on the shelf. But if a book is sitting just one shelf away with a dismal cover and a lame title that might actually become his new favorite, it never gets a chance. Like the girl who came in dressed as a slob, the book's first impression is too unappealing to the boy to get a chance for a second. 

And then there's the difficulty of finding what cover styles and titles make certain groups of people interested. For me, I'm often automatically drawn to something that is weird and unique. Covers of a style that I've never seen before quickly jump into my hands.
Some examples of my favorite book covers:

Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles (Incidentally, one of my favorite books as well.)

The Beekeepers's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

As far as titles go, I prefer short titles that you won't forget. That way, I can remember BOTH the title and the author's name when I recommend it to a friend.
Some examples of titles that I like AND authors that I can remember (and their covers, just for kicks.):
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma (Highly recommended!)

Zazoo by Richard Mosher

(Also: All of the books I've shared as examples are some of my favorites that I would definitely recommend.)

People are told not to judge others by first impressions, but they definitely make a pretty big impact. The same is definitely true for books. I'm not going to advise you to fight against this inevitable aspect of marketing, because it is just that--an aspect of marketing that is unavoidable. Publishers know that people will only buy their book if it has an interesting cover and/or title. The problem is just in the execution.


First of all, my sincerest apologies for not getting this up until today. I was out of town all last week and didn't remember about my Monday deadline until I was going to bed on Sunday night. I was then gone until late on Monday, and when I tried to get on the computer, my mom shooed me off to bed. I'm not trying to excuse my lateness, merely explaining it. 

Secondly, please comment on this if you are so willing. I try to do the same for you, and it really helps me improve my writing and blog. 


Monday, June 18, 2012


First of all, I'm so sorry about this!

I don't have a blog post ready yet. I was out of town all last week. I'll be gone during the day today, but I'll get one up this evening--so if I'm not on time for you, please look back later this evening or tomorrow!