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Judging (and Re-Judging) Books By Their Covers

As a librarian, I know I should be the first to admonish “don’t judge books by their covers”. But who am I kidding? I love judging books by their covers! It’s right up there with judging figure skaters based on their outfits rather than technical skills! So I’m always extra-interested when a book is released in a short span of time with two different covers. Frequently this happens when the paperback edition of a new book is released. The cover makeover that most recently caught my eye and provoked strong emotions is Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis, published by Alfred Knopf, a division of Random House. Let’s start with the facts: Mare’s War is a great story. Not just in my humble opinion, but also according to the Coretta Scott King award committee, which awarded it an author honor in 2010. However, in spite of the critical acclaim and some featured spots in past YA displays, it has circulated at my library a total of 1 time. I think I blame this cover:

The artwork skews much younger than the teens it could appeal to. There is also something about the way the eye is drawn to the central figure of Mare that screams “I am Historical Fiction!” and makes it really easy to overlook the contemporary characters depicted below. Now, some people including myself are ardent fans of historical fiction, and maybe to us this book looks great. But we’re not the ones who need to be sold on a title like this. So how do you draw in readers that are maybe more attracted to the contemporary storyline, without overlooking the importance of the historical subject matter? I give you the brilliance that is Cover #2:

For one thing, it’s simpler than the original, streamlined, and graphically packs a bigger punch. Continue reading Judging (and Re-Judging) Books By Their Covers