Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

It’s a pleasant weekend evening, and you have decided to visit your favourite book store. For most of us bibliophiles, it is one of our happy places to visit. You pick up a hot coffee and headphones and head towards the bookstore. Upon arrival at your favourite bookstore, you gaze upon a cover with a dragon and a boy holding sword. Your eyes waltz on the bright colours and the font of the cover.

You pick the book and go through the blurb. It’s about a young boy who left town to find the dragon responsible for the village’s loss. The book reminded you of all the fairytales you read growing up. There was drama, adventure, and a dark creature lurking in the forest. Your eyes lit up while looking at the cover. The book ticked all the markers of a fairy tale, and you decided to buy the book.

Sounds like a normal buying experience, right? You strolled through the aisles, found a book that caught your eyes, and you bought it. But…isn’t that what we have been told not to do? You know, judge a book by its cover?

Before we dive into the philosophy of the phrase, we should know about the meaning and origin of the phrase.

What Does the Phrase Mean?

The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” means that we should refrain from judging someone or something and form an opinion about them mainly on their looks or appearance, because after having a deeper look and understanding, that someone or something may be different than we assumed. One should not form an opinion based purely on what is seen on the surface, because after taking a deeper look, the person or the thing may be very different than expected.

For books, this is considered a naive approach to choose solely based on appearance. The phrase has become more than a reminder to review multiple features while choosing a book. When we are looking for a book to buy, the first thing that always captures our eyes is the cover of the book. The cover could be illustrated with bright colours and bold writing with beautiful book aesthetics. After viewing the cover, readers can decide whether that book is right for them or not. As a result, they neglect the other key features of the book. However, if the reader opens the book and reads the description of the book, they might find it interesting. While choosing a book on the basis of the cover, the reader makes a rush decision and often misses a good aesthetic book and a good reading experience.

The same approach is applied to people. They are usually judged based on their external appearance. However, if one gets to know the person, they can make better judgement and decisions about that individual. Therefore, this term is used as advice or caution that we should not judge someone or something purely on their physical appearance.

Most book lovers know better than to judge a book by its cover. Why? Just because a book has an amazing cover, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it’s an amazing book. Book covers are designed to attract the reader, but they are also meant to give a sort of picture synopsis for the story. The downside to pretty book covers is being deceived by them. You pick a book with an excellent looking cover, and after reading it, you realize that it wasn’t how you’d expected. Therefore, take the time to read the synopsis on the back and even flip through the book a bit.

Readers make decisions based on the details available on the cover. The visual aesthetics of a cover cannot be overlooked. They can judge on a variety of criteria, including the title of the book, the author, plotlines, blurb and so on. Readers must consider multiple perspectives before making decisions, in which case, cover is one of the factors considered in a book-buying decision.

From writing to publishing, good books are carefully planned. There is special attention given to major elements including characters, plots, artwork, designs and book aesthetics. Everything is carefully monitored and placed in the right spot. Overlooking the cover often degrades the work of designers and authors.

Many covers can be deceptive. They can add images of individuals having fun in the sun, while also hiding the severe depressive state of the character. The readers are advised to read the blurbs, read the synopsis on the back and even flip through the book a bit to know more about the authors writing style and storyline.


The cover plays a vital role in a book’s overall success. The cover tells a story, communicates with the readers, and plays a major role in the selection of the book. Cover art is what we will mostly judge a book by. The books’ publishers often put reasonable resources on the covers of the books to make them more popular and improve sales. Fonts, colour schemes, and image styles play a major role in the first impression while looking at the book. The book cover has these major elements discussed below.

Cover Art

Cover art is the first thing that catches the eye while looking for the book. There is a time when you can figure out the story by just looking at the cover. Children’s books have drawings or images on the book cover. We can easily assemble details about the characters and elements of the storyline.

Books marketed for a younger audience are judged based on their genres. Horror and mystery books have dark illustrations and deeper colours. Fantasy books have illustrations of fantasy characters and landscapes. Romantic reads often have attractive images. The publishers spend significant resources on the cover art to make it more attractive and improve sales.


Blurb is a short definition of a book, often written to explain the story or a review by a critic of the book. These are the opinions other authors or reviewers have given about the book. Book blurbs are important as they provide a review of the author, their writing style, and previously published books. The book blurbs can help readers make the decision for buying the book they are holding.

Back Cover

The readers usually ignore the back covers of the book. The back cover is also a vital part of a book as it often contains reviews about the writing of the author, their previously written books, more blurb or even a synopsis of the book you are holding. So, do not hesitate to turn the book over and take a glance at the back cover as well.

To learn more about Austin Macauley and purchase any of the suggested titles below, CLICK HERE! We at Austin Macauley have compiled some of the books with covers that define a story and help the readers choose. These covers have all the required elements needed for an attractive cover design.

Kings of Darkness

Kings of Darkness

The cover depicts a dark creature with bold text and a dark colour scheme checking all the markings of a horror read. This beautiful cover will easily prompt the reader to buy the book if they are a fan of the horror genre.



A Land Without War

A Land Without War

This cover depicts a fantasy world filled with ruins and a sole protagonist on the front. The text is visible with bold letters and convinces the readers to learn more about the story.



Adam's First Day at School

Adam’s First Day at School

There is a captivating graphic of a kid in front of a school facility, dressed and ready to venture on a new adventure. The soft colour tones and beautiful illustrations can easily charm readers to buy this excellent children’s read.


Deadly Dates

Deadly Dates

This upcoming thriller has a cover depicting objects that have a major impact on society. The use of red colour to highlight the title text makes it an interesting thriller that could unravel the secrets of the story. The use of money, technology, and weapons is foreshadowing a tale of crime, love and violence.


The World of Body Language

The World Of Body Language

The non-fiction read is a perfect example of an excellent design depicting all the major elements in a cover. The title and subtitle clearly define the purpose and meaning of the book. The illustration also supports the title of the book.



After the discussion, we should not forget that the book cover’s design is impressionistic. It varies from reader to reader, everyone has their taste and choice of a cover. We are all drawn towards attractive products. The Cover plays a major part in selecting a suitable book. We have discussed the other factors that should also be focused on while selecting a suitable book rather than just a creative cover. Therefore, you should ensure you pick a book because you liked the cover and read the blurb.

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