Buying Books For Their Covers and Public Reading

I was reading Shelf Awareness (which, by the way, is a must-read for all book enthusiasts if you haven't check it out yet) this morning and one of the blurbs was about book covers. Me being a sucker for book covers, it got me thinking. They had a quote from Jamie Raab who is an executive v-p and publisher of Grand Central Publishing:
"Book covers are important. You go into a bookstore and what do you see? You see covers. The bookstore experience is about the design, the color, the shape, the feel. I mean when you walk into a bookstore, sometimes you're overwhelmed. But aren't you stimulated by the art? And it is art."
Many of us agree that book covers are important and definitely plays a key factor when browsing in a brick and mortar store or online like on Amazon. These days publishers, especially in the young adult genre, are coming out with the most amazing covers like these three soon-to-be released-in-2011 novels:
blessed entwined wither

My interest for these books were definitely first sparked by the beautiful covers (pretty dresses!) and I am very much highly anticipating reading these books. And yes, a book cover is definitely art and there's no question about it--they have always been in my eyes.

Have you ever bought a book just for its cover? I have, many times. Here are just three:
seachange deadtossed pronounceyou

I buy a lot of books, more books that I could ever read in a year probably because these days with my job taking up most of my time, I'm lucky if I can read one book a week. But I keep buying anyway and it's mostly just to own a particular book, to have it in my collection. However, I usually do my "research" (reading numerous reviews both good and bad, reading excerpts and extras, looking up the author, etc.) before making my purchases to make sure I'll enjoy whatever I buy. But the books above have such pretty covers that I just want them on my self so I can stare at them when I'm looking through my book collection. Now, I know book covers don't always reflect what is between its pages. Some, despite how eye-catching the covers are, doesn't reflect the story at all. Case in point (according to Leslie because I haven't read it yet), Fallen by Lauren Kate. But this doesn't stop me from being a cover whore and I'll probably keep picking up (and buying) books for their covers.

Ms. Raab goes on to say:
"I have what I call the subway test: Will a man be comfortable carrying that book? And it can go the other way. People are conscious of what they're reading and what people see them reading."
This had me think of covers I stay away from or feel I must hide when reading in public. I'm going to focus on young adult books here because romance covers are a whole 'nother story. Okay, maybe it's because I'm not that big of a paranormal reader anymore but I always find myself staying away from these type of covers:
tempted thefallen wither

If it wasn't for all the buzz these books are getting, I probably would just keep disregarding them whenever I'm browsing online or at a physical bookstore. I'm just not attracted to these type of covers.

As for reading in public, I'm generally comfortable reading most YA in public but out of the covers above Tempted, Spirit Bound, City of Bones and even Sea Change will probably leave me semi self-conscious even though they are far from romance clinch covers. You know, someone online actually "lectured" me (through a discussion and the topic was romance covers) about how I shouldn't care what others think about I'm reading and what I read is my own business and as a twenty-first century woman what other people think shouldn't bother me... Sigh. When it comes down to it, I am very conscious of what I read and what people see me reading. You know, despite of what that person said about romance novels, I have yet to see someone reading a romance with a clinch cover in public.

Reader friends, what about you? Have you ever bought a book just for its cover? Have a type of cover you stay away from? Are you conscious of what you read in public?


  1. I hardly ever buy books new because of the exhorbitant cost in Sri Lanka. My purchases are second hand and generally those (where I have read the author before or its a recommendation from the bloggers). But, I love, really love nice covers!

  2. I enjoy the very beautiful covers on books but I do a lot of research before I pick out a book to buy. I read reviews on many different sites such as blogs, goodreads and Barnes and Noble to see if I think I will like that book. I read a lot of adult romance novels and I don't really care what people see me reading in public. The stories are ones that I enjoy and I'm certainly not going to care if people see. Be proud of what you read.

  3. What a great discussion post. I love beautiful covers but I have to admit that I don't buy books based on their covers anymore, mostly because these days it seems like I've pretty much heard of all the books, seen their covers, and know what they're about before seeing them in bookstores.

    Your other point, about the subway test, however, is so valid. I do think about it a bit before I take a book out with me. Typically the unfortunately girly ones stay at home, to be read in the privacy of, like, my bed or something. :) There's not much I can do about the covers of mass-market urban fantasies, but luckily they're small and also not pink for the most part so I feel okay bringing them out with me. It always makes me a little sad when a superb unisex book gets an obviously gendered cover and thus turns people off from reading them. Can you imagine what would've happened had The Hunger Games had a totally different cover? The horror!

  4. It may be the 21st century, but I would still be embarrassed to carry certain books in public. Let's face it, some covers are downright embarrassing to be seen with. Even at my age, I don't want people to think I'm reading smut, and some of the covers give you the impression that you're going to be reading porn. Not that I think that's wrong, but it's not something I would want to advertise to everyone else, either. and a lot of people do look down on romance novels, urban fantasy, etc. So even though I read urban fantasy (my favorite) and occasionally dip into a romance novel, i don't feel like carrying it around.

  5. I definitely buy books based on the cover, but I am never self conscious about reading anything in public. There are covers I stay away from, but it is more the genre than the actual cover. I am not into the covers with half naked hotties (guess cause I am way past drooling over guys with six and eight packs). Love the post!

  6. Heck yes! I do judge books by their covers. Sorry but true, unless I know something about it before hand. Titles too. When I go to the library I look at the titles on the spines, then pull the book to look at the cover. If I'm still not sure, then I read the flap. It has 3-4 sentences to hook me, otherwise back it goes.


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