Book Cover Judgements

We constantly hear the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We try to apply this to ourselves metaphorically when it comes to observing other humans; however this advice is not as applicable in the world of books.

Covers of books are very important because a lot of times they can determine whether or not a reader will pick up the book! And it all depends on which details catch the reader’s eye.

There are many different kinds of book cover designs, and I will elaborate on the kinds that attract me.

  • Simple Background vs. Crowded and Crazy

I prefer a simple background that draws more attention to the title of the book, as the title is often the main focal point of a cover that is bland. I like these kinds of covers because they allow me to think for myself what the book is about rather than already hinting at it for me. If a cover is too chaotic, I might just jump to a conclusion of what it is about rather than picking it up and reading the summary on the back. Some of the books below are examples of what I think are simply covered:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queen aveyard

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

  •  Central Symbol

Many popular YA dystopian books have a circular symbol or design on the cover. Readers later discover what this symbol means or refers to if they feel drawn enough to pick up the book and find out. I like these kinds of book covers because they are usually pretty simple as well and they are vague enough to let me imagine for myself what the story might be. Here are some of the popular books that have been adapted from page to screen and/or follow the usual recipe for dystopia:

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

hunger games

The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth


The Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

  • Central Figure

Covers that display a central figure, most of the time the main character of the story, always catch my eye because they are usually depicted in cool profile shots or with interesting outfits or in interesting situations. It is still vague enough to avoid spoiling the story. Below are examples of a few favorites of mine in the types of covers that I just mentioned:

The Selection Trilogy by Kiera Cass


Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

city of bones cover

  • Dark/Bright and Mysterious/Vague

I know I have already used these words above but what I mean with this category is that what is shown on the cover is vague or mysterious or unique enough to make me wonder what the story is about. It is compelling and hooks readers because of how different it is. It makes readers wonder why the cover is designed this way. Here are the best examples I can think of:

Hungry by H.A. Swain


Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska by John Green


The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver


Cinder by Marissa Meyer


  • Black and White vs. Color

I do not have a preference when it comes to this category, but I just think that the uses of color and b/w can be very effective. Bright colors can make a cover pop out amongst more mundane shades. The same goes for black and white against colored covers. Here are some examples of successful covers (in my opinion):

The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condiereachedcrossed by ally condie

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

13 Reasons Why

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor



  • Cute and Cartoony

I am also a sucker for cute book covers whether they have cartoony design or cliché picture but here are a few that I think are cute:

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green


Paper Towns by John Green


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and park rainbow rowell cover

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl Rainbow Rowell

  • Hard Cover vs. Paperback

This is actually, in my opinion, a key underdog factor in the purchase of a book. I myself sometimes have to reject a book because the hard cover version is much more expensive than the paperback version for which I will have to wait. Plus, the sleeve on hard backs can be really annoying when you try to read the book, and it is hard to decide whether to take it off or leave it on because it is also pretty and it protects the book.

  • New/Multiple Covers

And then we have the books whose covers change because the publishers feel like changing the covers, or a new edition comes out, or the book gets made into a movie. This is a risky move to make because sometimes readers love the new covers and sometimes they don’t. I like that publishers do this to rekindle interest in the books. And I understand that changing the cover to the movie poster will attract more attention from the movie audience. So I guess, overall, this is usually a good choice.

-Dessi Gomez

One thought on “Book Cover Judgements”

  1. Great insight on how books are actually judged by its cover, despite the famous “don’t judge a book by its cover” mantra. This blog of yours also got me to thinking of how publishing companies “rebrand” certain books to appeal to different target demographics. For example, the adult covers for the Harry Potter books were really cool (see this article on rebranding:

    Great job!

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