I am an avid reader. I read everything. I get better understanding in things by reading. I am also a bibliophile, in a way that I really love to buy and collect books -the physical ones. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of e-books but the impulse to buy the physical book of that particular title is still going strong, especially if the books are really great ones and I would like to have it on my bookshelf. This also applies to books I’ve read that I borrowed from someone or a library. Even if I’ve read the book, I still want to have the book myself so that I could re-read it someday. One other case is if a good movie I just watched is adapted from a book. This will motivate me to buy and read the original book because deep-down I have this presumption that book will always be better than its movie adaptation.
Back to this post title I want to talk about book cover. As someone who loves to buy books, book cover sometime has quite a significant role in my decision to buy a book. It means that I do judge a book by its cover which is exactly what the idiom tells not to do. I started judging a book by its cover from an experience I have when I went to a local bookstore sometime ago looking for a good book to buy. I went to the bookstore and there were many stacks of newly published books by many new authors and some of them were from unknown publishers. In the case of buying book without any reference about the book beforehand, I usually rely to the synopsis on the back cover of the book. But sometime books don’t provide synopsis on the back cover or it is just too vague to give better understanding what the book is about. And then I realized that the selling point from those books are probably the cover. It got me thinking that those cover designs were trying to deceive me by saying that this book content is as ‘pretty‘ as its cover. Of course I would love to have a book with pretty cover but what matters the most to me is the content -the story in it. Since then I never buy books impulsively just by the cover. I always make sure to know about the content beforehand or at least about the author and the publisher.
Some time after that incident, I watched a movie titled The Awkward Moment with Zac Efron and Milles Teller in it. Their characters in the movie are book cover designers. Acknowledging book cover as a product of someone else’s job which takes time, ideas and effort, I’ll quote from the movie:
A book cover should hint to the story but not give away too much.
Get people to believe in something enough to want to buy it.
Get people to believe in the surface.
it made me realize that there is a process in designing a book cover and there is a message a designer want to deliver from the book cover. So judging a book by its cover should’t be done too lightly. Just because a book is designed prettily not necessarily meant the content is less ‘pretty‘.
My other complaint about book cover is when publisher re-release a book with its adapted movie poster as the cover. This is somehow contradicting to what a book cover supposed to be. Movie poster usually shows the face of the main character of the story which is acceptable for the movie because sometime they -the movie people, need to tell viewers beforehand who the actors in the movie as a selling point. In exception of book as a memorabilia of a movie, showing an actor face on the book cover doesn’t show anything about the book content. It is arguable that using movie poster as the book cover is a way either to promote the movie or to attract book buyers by advertising the movie. It is indeed quite often that book sales increase after the movie adaptation is released. But for someone who enjoys a book mainly because the richness of storytelling in the medium of a book, I often find it offputting to see a good book with its adapted movie poster as the cover.
On that note, I have to say that I’m glad that one of my favorite book series -Harry Potter series, never use its movie poster as the cover. Although at this point I am instinctively associate Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter because of the movie but if we read the book carefully we’re gonna find out that the Harry Potter described in the book has many physical differences with Harry Potter acted by Daniel Radcliffe. That is why I could say that using movie poster as a book cover only has advertising purpose, no message want to be delivered at all. Nowadays I really try to buy a book with its original cover designed by the book cover designer not the one with movie poster as the cover.