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What Makes A Captivating Cover? 🖼

Today's blog post is my top three in terms of defining cover appeal. Covers are very subjective, as any book-lover can tell you. What appeals to one reader won't necessarily appeal to another. However, the experience of browsing for a new book, whether it be online or in a physical bookstore, is very much influenced by the covers we see. Unless I already know the author, it's rare for me to click on/pick up a book when I don't like the cover.

But what makes a good cover? (Disclaimer: I'm not an expert! I just thought it would be an interesting subject). As I've already said, covers are a personal thing. Therefore it makes sense to approach the subject from my own perspective. There are three main things I want from a cover if I'm going to fall in love with it:

1. The wow factor. That indefinable something. An eye-catching cover might be beautiful, or intriguing, or startling, or a combination of all three, but it has to stand out amongst its neighbours.

2. Scene-setting. A sense of what to expect from the book. It's helpful if the cover can point to the genre and the intended age-group.

3. The promise. A good book cover understands the words inside. Its images will translate something important from the story/content. Perhaps another way to describe it might be as a hook. It takes the wow factor to another level of interest, making the reader want to figure out what the cover means, and read the words behind the images.

Everyone knows the saying, “You can't judge a book by its cover.” I searched to find the first use of this phrase, and there are two suggestions: one from as far back as 1867, and the other more recently in 1944. And of course, you can't judge a book by its cover. The cover is only a snapshot. However, what else is a reader supposed to do? There isn't time to read everything! We have to narrow down our choices somehow 😏.

Here are three covers I love, selected at random. They each have the wow factor, they each set the scene, and they also make a promise that's honoured by the stories inside. I've tried to explain what I love about them as if I hadn't already read and enjoyed the actual books.

The Trials of Apollo, The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan.
What I love:

  • The colours, especially the way the blue frames the orange
  • The substitution of the O in the title for a sun
  • The contrast between the golden god-like image with the bow and arrow and the ordinary boy on the street

Lockwood & Co., The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud.
What I love:

  • The old-fashioned font. It's quirky but still legible
  • The image. What is it? Is it something dangerous, or is it the object that will eventually save the day?
  • The contrast between the magic glow/smoke and the looping chains

The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician's Nephew, by C. S. Lewis.
What I love:

  • The way the different colours blend together
  • The cover manages to include a lot of detail without being too cluttered
  • The combination of apparently disconnected items: a lion's face, pools of water (or something water-like), three rings, some trees, and a boy. How do they all come together in one story?

What do you look for in a cover? Do you like the examples I've chosen ? Thank you very much for visiting my blog today!

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