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Can You Judge a Book by Its Cover? January 26, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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We have a friend, J.S. who works as a youth librarian at a Public Library. Recently, she brought to our attention the age old question of, “Can you judge a book by its cover?”

In her experience, kids seem to have no idea what kind of books they like. When asked outright, “what kind of books do you like”, some children will reply, “paperback” or “hardcover.” Many of them are more focused on what their friends will think if they are caught reading the book, than on what is inside. In part, this adds to the popularity of movie-tie-in versions of books, with famous actors on the covers. J.S. says the movie-cover versions of The Lord of The Rings are far more popular than the editions with the original artwork.

As a librarian, and perhaps as a reader, this is discouraging, especially in cases where the movie has been changed from the original story in the book. J.S. cites Cheaper By the Dozen as an example of this. The classic novel was turned into a cute movie, and children that enjoy the movie and then seek out the book with the picture from the movie on the cover are sure to be surprised since the story is quite different.

J.S. points us to an amusing post she found while looking into book covers, which collects a series of books that have been egregiously disadvantaged by someone’s apparent lack of any taste whatsoever.

What do you think? Can you judge a book by its cover? Would you ever pick up that Sherlock Holmes book above?



1. pupfiction - January 26, 2010

If I were the authors of some of these books I think I would try to sue the cover artist for defamation of character!

2. bookmate - January 30, 2010

As a middle school media specialist I can tell you that if a book does not have an interesting cover I can’t even give it away. If the cover has a connection to a movie or TV show, students will take it, even if they have not viewed the Hollywood version of the book. Students think if the book was made into a movie or TV series, it must be good even if the series only used the title! The cover hooks them and I just hope they read enough to enjoy the book.

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