Book Lab: Judging a Book by Its Cover, Part 2

Book Lab’s 2nd Experiment!

E. D. Watson

If book jackets are designed to appeal to the aesthetic of a specific readership, as determined selectingby our first Book Lab experiment, then what appeals to us, individually, as readers? In our follow-up investigation, we examined this question by choosing books from the library’s New Fiction display, based solely on the appeal of their covers. This could include:

  • Art
  • Endorsements by other authors
  • Prize-nomination or award stickers
  • Title
  • Author

jennifer2We were not, however, allowed to read the summary of the novel — we were interested in what compels us to pick up a book in the first place. What assumptions do we make about content or quality based upon the cover?

By limiting our choices to the New Fiction display, we also eliminated outdated aesthetics, which could negatively influence our decision, but are ultimately irrelevant. Remember how in the eighties all the women’s books had big flowers and…

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