This isn’t a discussion about if we’re attracted to pretty covers because, let’s face it, we are. And for the most part, we bookworms don’t deny it.
That’s not to say we never read books that don’t have pretty covers, at least I know I do sometimes, but we still love to obsess over and read the books with pretty ones. But the cover has absolutely zero bearing on the writing inside, so why do we gravitate to the books with nicer covers? That, my friends, is the question I’m trying to figure out the answer to, so let’s discuss!
The Point of a Book Cover
I’m trying really hard to figure out how to organize this post but quite frankly I’m completely winging it and don’t even know yet exactly what it is that I’m going to say or discuss. I’m just kind of thinking out loud (or in writing). But it seemed like the point of book covers would be a good place to start.
Obviously pretty covers are helpful to books because they get our attention and draw us in. In order to get interested in a book, we have to notice it first. So it does make sense that we just tend to notice the pretty books more, and maybe that’s why we read them more. But though that might explain why we end up reading a high number of them, that doesn’t explain why we decide to read books we might otherwise not simply because of their covers, so I have some theories.
Maybe the Book Covers We Find Pretty Are the Simply Ones that Fit Our Reading Tastes
What I mean by this, maybe it’s one of those correlation but not necessarily causation things. Maybe we subconsciously (or consciously) have noticed that a lot of the books we like have a certain cover style, and so we start gravitating to other books with the cover style thinking they might be like those other books on the inside. I mean, that IS one of the important jobs of covers, to portray the genre, the type of book, and the story inside. I do a lot of posts featuring covers, and I’ve noticed that different genres do often have very distinct styles. And since taste in covers is so subjective, maybe that’s because reading taste is subjective and we’re all being drawn to the covers that match our reading tastes? I think this might account for at least some covers since, for example, I rarely see covers I like in the contemporary romance or chick lit genre… but I also don’t read those genres. And when I make posts about covers I like, the books end up usually being all sci-fi/fantasy because those are just the types of covers I like.
Maybe It IS Possible for the Cover to Affect the Story Inside
I know I said the opposite in my intro, but hear me out because this may not apply to everyone but it does apply to me. I like book covers that have the characters on them—not photos of random real people, but artwork or at the very least a photo manipulation with a person who is not from a stock website and therefore not on any other covers. Almost all the covers I consider the prettiest have the characters on them. And as humans in general, we tend to pretty visual, right? We connect better with people when we can see them. Well, I am a human, so when I see the characters, sometimes I start connecting to them or getting invested in them before I’ve even started the book, and THAT then draws me in and makes me want to read it. For example, see this cover?
I haven’t even started this series yet, but damn it if I’m not already swooning over their relationship. They just look so adorable together! But they also look like they’ve had some hardships—look at the dark-haired character’s sad face :-((( But do you see? Do you see how I am already invested and feeling things and caring about these characters? I wouldn’t be feeling this way though if this were just a plain cover with some text or a stock photo. And the more invested I am, the more I’m going to enjoy the book. I think this may be the main reason why I personally am so attracted to [what I consider to be] pretty covers.
Not only that, seeing the characters or the setting can make it a lot easier to picture these things clearly and vividly in my mind which then also makes for a better reading experience.
Maybe Pretty Covers Just Make Us More Curious
Pretty covers stick in our minds in a way that mediocre or plain covers don’t. So then we just kinda keep thinking about the book and getting more curious. Or the pretty cover might have something unique or interesting on it that catches our attention and makes us curious, and so we decide to make time for that book, but not the boring-cover books, because we want to know more.
Maybe It’s All About that Bookstagram
It definitely makes sense to want pretty book covers if you’re going to be taking photos of them! I can see why this might be some people’s reason. I don’t really use Instagram though, and I still like pretty covers, so that means this can’t be the only reason.
Or Maybe We Just Like Looking at Pretty Things
I’m still picky about what I read, I won’t read a book just for the cover if the blurb doesn’t actually sound like something I’ll enjoy, but I know some people do buy books based on the covers alone. And I get it because I do get swayed by covers if I’m on the fence. I guess sometimes it’s just worth it to read a book we’re not sure we’ll like if it means we get to own the cover and look at its gorgeousness forever.
P.S. If you like looking at pretty covers and want some bookish eye candy, check out my Cover Characteristics posts!