Reader Confession – Judging a book by its cover…

by Maryse on April 26, 2017 · 22 comments

in Editorial

Sometimes book covers make our face faces do this. :P

This reader confession is brought to you by Ela. ;) LOL!!! It’s not really her own reader confession per se, but she said one of the funniest comments I’ve ever read, and I was just SO inspired to create this post because of her comment.

Maryse: Funniest comment of the day (and maybe week, month and year)… *snort*

Ela really loves a book and wants us to read it, but there were a few comments on the less-than-thrilling cover, yet she insisted, saying:


LOL!!!!!!!!! :P She makes me laugh so hard!!!

And it isn’t particularly “new” since I know WE ALL do this in one way or another, which is… judging a book by its cover.

R: I am the first to admit I judge books by their covers just as much as I buy books for their covers.

Amy: I love covers that make me want to cradle them and stare lovingly at them. ‘Cause that’s what book lovers do.

Whether we choose NOT to read a book, or keep putting one off, because the cover just doesn’t “do it” for us (for various reasons), and missing out on an AMAZING story. OR, choosing a book because the cover is so enticing… and well. Sometimes the story inside “matches” by way of being JUST as enticing (YAY!!) but sometimes… rolleyes not so much. *sigh*

And here’s the thing. I KNOW better than to judge a book by its cover, ’cause just like Ela said, back in the old-school “indie” days, so many of the covers were homemade, or lackluster, or pretty tame for the awesome story that would be revealed. Yep. It still comes down to… it’s what’s INSIDE that counts. And had I gone by my own misgivings of a cover, I would have missed out on some of my (OUR) forever favorites, that are now CLASSIC “indie-romance” that has set the 5-star standard for our book love! In fact, I remember when I’d read such a book, and want to scream it from the rooftops, and always adding a disclaimer of sorts INSISTING that you not worry about the cover. LOL!!! I wanted to make sure nobody missed out on its awesomeness.

Maryse: Back when I first started reading indie, so many of the covers were just… NO. But darn it, if I didn’t find the best of the best in there.

And still, so many of us, if not, ALL of us, struggle with certain covers, for whatever reason (too boring, too homemade, too tame, too sexy, too much chest, I don’t want to see a “face”, etc etc…). We know better… and yet… (even me). I STILL find myself jumping in, or skipping over, the occasional book, because of its cover.

Ela: …read Heart on a Chain!

R: Hmmm. Aside from that terrible cover, it looks like it has potential!

Ela: Yeah, that cover is NOT so great but the book is!

Ela: *chanting….Heart on a Chain*….

Jean: Really, Heart on a Chain?….I don’t like the cover, but GR always has that book as a recommendation for me!


Maryse: LOL ELA!!!!!!!!!!! That’s one of the FUNNIEST comments ever made here on the blog, and you’ve got some stiff competition with bev’s comments. ;) Yes, SOOOOO MANY books from back in 2009 – 2012 have really rough covers… and yet are the highlights of my reading life. In those days… we really COULDN’T judge a book by its cover. And now it’s sometimes the opposite. The cover is totally awesome, and the story doesn’t always match…

Nay: Twigs! ROFLMAO, Ela!

R: I’m at 30% on The Sweet Gum Tree. I haven’t noticed any editing issues but I’m happy to hear it’s getting a new cover!

Robyn: My book slump might just be turning around! I also have The Sweet Gum Tree in my que. The cover just hasn’t enticed me to read it yet.

Amy: Oh Robyn, DO NOT let the cover of The Sweet Gum Tree deter you. The cover with the car on the front is not appealing at all, but I am soooooo glad I ignored it and read it anyway. Bottom line…the cover is crap (sorry, it just is) but the story is not.

R: I agree with Amy! The Sweet Gum Tree has one of the worsts covers ever, and I hardly ever read books with bad covers, but I knew this one was going to be worth it and it is. I’m at 35% and loving it! And OMG is it angsty! I really need to stop reading during pedicures or I’m going to lose a toe one of these days!

Amy: Oh R… *gets bottle of wine ready* Just wait for the *OOMPH* moment. I. Was. Blindsided. You’ll know it when you get there. ;)

Amy: And I agree about the “rough” original covers with great stuff inside. Slammed (well, not rough really but still pretty plain), Fallen Crest, Sweet Gum Tree…I’ll bet I could look and find even more cringeworthy covers which ended up being favorite books of mine.

Tessa: Honestly, other than the first book, Pierced, JC Mells books have crap covers.

MichelleS: Tairen Soul Series has the WORST covers! The books were amazing though.

Tessa: Tairen Soul covers do suck. Who read that manuscript and thought, old 90s bodice ripper cover?

And here’s some more fun comments about our love of, or aversion to, certain covers:

Amy: There’s just something about gorgeous, artsy covers or those which are simple but gorgeous that suck me right in. Full Tilt and All In (Full Tilt Book 2) …need I say more? The cover for Badger is what grabbed my attention, and I even like the new covers for the Fallen Crest series…but that may be because I love the books. ;) Oh, and most of Colleen Hoover’s covers…Ugly Love, It Ends With Us, Hopeless…*sigh* OH! Covers with water or bright, bold flowers. And covers that make my heart ache.

bev: I’ll admit many of the current covers, the Kennedy ones included, are nice to look at. Very nice, lol. But, it would be nice if they are starting to realize not all the covers need to look like that. Also, covers can be so creative and artistic. I love seeing the cover art all lined up in a store or library. Speaking of I think both of those Rowell covers are great and represents the story inside the book.

Amy: I can’t believe (well, actually I can *snort*) that I almost passed over Fallen Crest High (Fallen Crest Series, Book 1) years ago because of the original cover that looked like a sketch of a girl’s face.

Tessa: I think we are going to continue to see the half naked bodies. The cover states to the reader contemporary romance. Flowers state women’s lit.

Ela: On another note, why are “beard covers” showing up EVERYWHERE???? NO JUST NOOOOOOOOO

Nay: I’ve noticed A LOT of authors are getting away from the naked torsos–going with couples or GUYS WITH NASTY, BUSHY BEARDS! UGH!!

Leslie M: Facial hair a la Joe Manganiello…YES PLEASE!!

Maryse: You guys I’m totally not a beard person… noooooo. And I know the main character in The Opposite of You (Opposites Attract Series Book 1) has that “trendy tattooed, beard guy” look, but trust me… This book is SO awesome, so well written, and he is SO amazing (the ONE character I’ve fallen SO hard for in years… I mean almost Travis-hard), that I don’t even care about his beard.  In fact, I suddenly find myself attracted to that cover, because of how I grew to “know” his sweet, moodiness.  So choose yourself a sexy favorite (in beard-mode) and just picture him… as you read this. It is AMAZING.

R: I can make any H look like Josh Duhamel in my head but put his bearded mug on the cover and I struggle. I don’t care how hot the guy is, I’d prefer the cover be ambiguous. Sometimes the guy or girl is smoking hot but doesn’t fit the character in my mind and it throws me off.

R: As much as I hate seeing bare torsos, I hate seeing faces more.

Leslie M: Is it bad of me that I want to read that wet t-shirt one just ’cause of cover?

Fabi: I am not the only one who picks books based on titles and covers. Come on folks, fess up! Who has read a book because they thought the title or cover was cool.

MichelleS: I NEVER go by the cover when I picture my guys. I have my “go to” bad guys, hot guys, blonde guys (rare), messy haired guys, whatever.

Cheryl: Let me just say one more thing about the hot-guy shirtless covers. Yes, they’re hot and the guys are gorgeous to look at, but to me it’s a cop-out for creativity. Cookie-cutter covers that don’t really say what the book is truly about. Skim thru book covers and 9 out of 10 are shirtless guys and a lot of the same one’s are used over and over.

Maryse: Mack Daddy! is definitely one of the best bad-boy cover model covers…

Amy: You know what would have made me click Mack Daddy immediately? If the cover had been a picture from behind of the guy (fully dressed, of course) holding a little boy’s hand with the boy in his backpack and holding a lunchbox like he was ready for school. THAT would have made it an immediate click-and-read.

R: I’m with Amy. And I can almost guarantee I’d never pick up MD because of the cover. I just looked at my “read” list and the ONLY standard shirtless book I’ve read (that I picked) was The Deal. The few other ones on there were Fabi recs :D But for some reason, I’m fine with shirtless covers on MM books!

Maryse: …he’s HOT. Come on. LOOK AT HIM. LOOK. AT. HIM. Will ya just? All I wanna say is HOLY MACKMOLY. LOL!!!!!!!!

Amy: “HOLY MACKMOLY”????? LOL!!!!!! That’s the official catch phrase for this one!! He IS hot. Dangit. I’m totally making an exception to my no-shirtless-guy-covers decision. You are SUCH a bad (in the most fun and bestest way) influence on my convictions! :P

Maryse: *waggles eyebrows* What?!! Is it too early in the morning to waggle eyebrows and be corny over the hot cover? :P LOL!!!!!

Leslie: What is so funny is I am having major cover-gasm over Mack Daddy! I think it is sexy in a tasteful way (and holy crap that guy is hot). For me, the headless naked torsos are kind of icky. However, I have said before that I don’t want ANY ONE besides fellow romance book lovers to see my covers. I would be embarrassed if my RL friends saw what I post on GR.

R: I *can* read a book with a half naked cover, but I really struggle if it’s a just a bad cover in general.

Leslie: As much as I love oogling these hot covers in private….I have to be honest….if ebooks didnt exist, I wouldn’t read a paperback with a cover like Mister Moneybags. But….since ebooks DO exist, bring on the sexy covers!!! My son & husband dont have access to my ebooks!!

Jan: I’d never be seen dead picking up a book with a cover like that in public LOL. I would be feeling like people would be side-eying me and thinking, she’s too old for that sorta stuff, isn’t she????

Tasha: I have to agree with shirtless cover models. Even though they’re (the men) very nice to look at, I’m usually turned off by those covers anymore. I have been for a long time. Unless there’s a lot of raving about how great the book is, I generally don’t even bother reading the blurb. Also, I don’t like putting them on GR because, well I do have family for friends and while I doubt they really judge, I think they judge a little. Lol I’d rather not see sexy, erotic book covers from my Mom or my Aunt either, it’s too weird.

Antonella: i’m reading Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A friend swears by her and thought I would give it a go. Although all her covers are a bit cheesy, I know you aren’t meant to judge a book by it’s cover but….can’t help it.

And how about you? When it comes to covers, what does it for you? What doesn’t? AND BEST OF ALL!!! Let us know what book you LOVED that you found had an less-than-appealing book cover.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan April 27, 2017 at 2:11 AM

Hey, am I first? *does happy dance* Suck it up, suckerrrrs.

Covers are a sore spot with me. Yep, I hate the headless, super-ripped torso covers. I like my book heroes to be *real* men with muscles from good ole physical activity and general fitness, not guys who spend 20 hours a week in the gym to put muscles on their muscles. And I like to see their face, at least. for e.g. The Silent Waters cover up there is nice.

I don’t like it if the cover is too saucy or openly suggestive either. Let that stuff stay between the covers LOL. The cover of Tampa by Alissa Nutting is a case in point. Just, no. (Buttonhole on the cover looks like *ahem* a ladypart.)

Nay April 27, 2017 at 6:23 AM

Oh yes, Jan! That Tampa cover is awful But it’s just a buttonhole! lol And I’m reading Leave Me Breathless right now, and it really needs a cover update–it has one of those old Samhain covers with one of the overly ripped guys you mentioned on it.If it wasn’t part of a series that I wanted to continue with, I probably wouldn’t have read it–just because of the cover.

I pass up books all the time because of horrible, cheesy covers, especially now that Indie books have been around for a while, and I also pick some books because of their interesting covers. That’s sad that some authors don’t get their books read because they have bad taste in covers!

Fabi April 27, 2017 at 8:18 AM

I prefer my book covers to not look like this month’s Playgirl. It’s not quite as much of an issue nowadays with ebooks. But I remember us romance readers doing anything to hide the book covers. In fact some had these book slip covers, like the ones you put on a textbook, but for paperbacks.

Nancy Parken April 27, 2017 at 8:33 AM

I love this!!! And I admit to having bought lots of books just because of the cover. I also have read books I have loved, which really needed a “new” cover!!

bev April 27, 2017 at 8:47 AM

Fabi, those old historical bodice rippers? I was so embarrassed by those.
And relieved when they’d be on the inside cover flap.
I swear I read somewhere that the models would pose for the pictures but then someone would paint the cover by hand from the photo.

Nay April 27, 2017 at 11:36 AM

Fabi–I have one of those book slip covers! It fits the oversize paperbacks, like the Samhain ones! lol

Teri April 27, 2017 at 12:36 PM

I give a big ACK! to the new fangled hipster covers. You can keep ‘em. What is it with the weird long bangs, short hair & BIG beards I say? Just NO (lol)! I find it hard to click on them even when they have good reviews. My favorite, sexy covers, are the ones that leave a little to the imagination. Like when you only see a partial face or partial ab or arm… Just a little hint of somthin-somethin! :-)

LOL, my first ‘smut’ book, Blood Line, I made a cover for it out of a brown paper bag… If my Mom had seen it that would have been it!

Lauren April 27, 2017 at 3:35 PM

I remember reading the Heller series by JD Nixon years ago and they had the worst covers. I would never had picked them up if someone didn’t recommend them to me.

MichelleS April 27, 2017 at 5:36 PM

I don’t like “headless super ripped torsos” either, but dang, After Hours was a hit book & I loved the cover back then!

I also thought a super hot guy’s face in the cover was IT for me, once upon a time: like Lover Avenged & Love, in Spanish.

My current faves are cool colors & “feelings” covers, like In the Absence of Light.

Worst covers – great books, don’t judge it by the cover: Weaving Man (especially the hand drawn one) and Into This River I Drown.

I also like simple Black covers with graphic images. Aka – Twilight series. DON’T LAUGH! It’s true.

Jan April 27, 2017 at 7:56 PM

LMAO Teri. “I made a cover for it out of a brown paper bag… ”

I was reading Georgette Heyers from the library when I was a teen, and they had the most boring covers imaginable, so I didn’t need to hide them from my mum. Mum was pretty much addicted to Mills and Boon anyway, although the old-school covers of those were pretty laughable too. Just have a look at some of them on google if you want a giggle.

MichelleS April 27, 2017 at 8:12 PM

When I was a teen I read Danielle Steel, and thought Remembrance (hardcover) was the prettiest book ever!!! LOL

Jan April 27, 2017 at 11:17 PM

Ooh daring, Michelle. Danielle Steel would have been a bit too grown-up for me. I was a late developer LOL.

Fabi April 27, 2017 at 11:25 PM

Oh god, I was reading Roberta Gellis and Bertrice Small when I was barely in my teens. Never in public though! Covers…

Ela April 28, 2017 at 6:44 AM

IMO Tampa’s cover matched the book quite well….*insert your imagination* and no I wouldn’t called the book a “button hole” but other holes come to mind, like perhaps ear holes, nose holes (nostrils) etc *snort* :lol:

Jan April 28, 2017 at 7:55 PM

Fabi you saucy young thing. Although if I’d come across Bertrice Small then, I’m sure I would have read them too. I guess our *wholesome* local library didn’t stock books like that. ;)

Fabi April 28, 2017 at 8:01 PM

I had my own dealer. ;-)

A friend of mine’s Mom read bodice rippers. She’d hand me full brown paper grocery store bags of them.

Jan April 28, 2017 at 11:37 PM

Sweet deal.

Janet April 29, 2017 at 6:55 PM

Worse covers? Probably Natasha Anders Unwanted series, although I really, really like her books. I take a certain amount of pleasure from having books on my kindle that I couldn’t possibly imagine having the nerve to hold as a paperback on the commuter rail – Deborah Bladon’s Ruin series is hot hot hot, and holy moly, I nearly fainted at the sight if Vi Keeland’s The Baller! Alexa Riley’s Coach is completely over the top! I did like The Gravity of Us cover and the story was fantastic!!

Jan April 29, 2017 at 7:26 PM

Huh yeah the cover of The Baller. Whew! I wouldn’t like to be seen reading that one in public! The cover of The Coach is a bit weird to me. I mean, the do the guy’s shoulders look a bit unnaturally wide to anyone else? A bit scary, really. LOL.

I liked the cover of the Gravity of Us too. I haven’t read any of those books yet though.

Leslie M April 30, 2017 at 6:43 AM

There is nothing worse than a non-romance reader seeing certain covers/titles and being all judgey over it. My husband saw me reading Real Good Man by Meghan March and instead of him thinking it was hot, he rolled his eyes, made fun of me and thinks I’m all pervy or something!

Let me read my smut in peace!!!! (not piece)

Maryse April 30, 2017 at 9:53 AM

LOL Leslie. And when they get started on the titles. ;) Well, to be fair, some of them ARE innuendo-y.

Leslie M April 30, 2017 at 9:58 AM

Such is life for the romance reader….

*resigned sigh*

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