We’re taught at a young age not to judge a person based on their appearance or a book by its cover. I hate to admit, when it comes to men and books, I prefer the ones with good faces. It’s not that I wouldn’t date an ugly man or read an ugly book, but I’m more drawn to the ones that are appealing. Before you judge me or worse, unfollow me, ask yourself, have you ever judged a book because of an ugly cover? What about a reader or an author? Do you think that people who read ugly books have bad taste, or that authors who write books with bad covers are bad writers?
Look, I’m sure the ugly books are full of personality, but I just don’t notice them because of their competition. I’ll admit I’ve picked up some books based on cover alone: “The Prince of Thorns” series, for example.
Are we too quick to defend ugly books? Is a bad book cover ever indicative of a bad book. The long and short of it is YES. A bad cover could be the result of an author cutting cost. If they cut corners on the cover, they most likely cut corners on rewrites and editing as well. In that case, what you see is what you get. Not to say there aren’t writers who cut corners on everything BUT the cover, thus tricking you into buying their book only to discover that it has all the quality of a cheap chocolate bar: pretty foil wrapping on the outside, waxy plastic-tasting chocolate on the inside.
Before you brand me as a book bigot, I’ve read some ugly books. In middleschool I read “Kris’s War” which was about a resistance group in Denmark during the second World War. It was a great book, but the cover was hideous. When I read it, I held it low so people would not see because it looked like a cheezy sci fi from the 70’s. Anyone who saw it made a face or a comment. They asked “What are you reading?” in the same tone one might say “Dear God, what is that thing!”
Just to prove I’m not biased, I’m currently reading another book with a bad cover (bad is a generous word). Terry Pratchett’s books don’t typically have great covers to start with; however, “Guards, Guards” has got to be the worst. It’s too colorful and confusing, and the characters look terrible (I don’t even know which characters they are supposed to be).
While we’re on the topic of bad covers, don’t underestimate the power of a bad title. For example, what automatically comes to mind when you read “Cooking with Pooh.” I hope it was the Disney character.
What’s the worst cover you’ve ever seen? Hopefully it’s not the cover of your own book. Here are a few I found on the web or (for shame) on my bookshelf.