Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
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Choosing a Book by Its Cover

by Calee Jordan

Why not buy a book because of its cover?

No, don’t judge a book by its cover? 

Total BS. Why not judge the book based on its cover? It is designed for judgement and sales. Book covers exist for a reason. They entice the reader and hint at the story. Most often, cover designers’ stereotypical use of images reflect a story’s themes.

I can prove it.

In romance, if the cover has a male and female on the cover, the characters’ romance is pivotal to the plot. If the cover shows bare skin (particularly torso or thighs), the romance will be somewhat erotic. However, a floral or painted/drawn landscape also hints romantic, but flowers usually indicate historical romance while the landscape often reflects a sweet or nostalgic romance. On the other hand, weapons indicate a battle/war centered plot, but symbols of justice—a badge, prison bars, a smoking gun, handcuffs (not the furry kind)—indicate mystery. Words without images equal philosophical concepts or self-help. A rainbow of colors equals instruction. Heels, whether worn or isolated, translate into chick lit.

Was I wrong?

However, the meanings of sci-fi and fantasy covers still allude me. Are lightning bolts, birds, and plants about the environment or power? Does the half-dressed person on the cover convey a erotic message or primitive power? There is a certain fun in not knowing what the book entails.

Still, I don’t expect anyone to buy a book because of pretty pictures and colors without knowing more about the plot. That’s how I generated a Kindle folder of partially read books. Pretty pictures and bright color do not equal good stories. Thus reading the book summary is a must.

However, limiting your selection process, once in a while, to the exterior can be exciting.

I’ve chosen several books because of covers. Not really caring about the genre, I scroll through Kindle and Hoopla until an image draws my eye. Several times, the brilliant color held my eye like You are a Badass, Spirited, and Trickery (Curse of the Gods series by Jaymin Eve). The bold tint of the color is unequal, so the writing must be something special, right?

Occasionally, the cool hair draws my gaze—Spirited (again), The Veil Diaries by B. L. Brunnemer, and the Premonition series by Amy Bartol (well, its downy single feather).

But most awe inspiring are the beautiful covers. Dudgeon Born (The Divine Dungeon series) by Dakota Krout, Blood Oath by Raye Wagner, and Ink  and its sequel Spark by Alice Broadway are beautifully drawn. The detail adds intensity to the potential story.

Truly cool looking, right? The hand drawn images with its black and white add drama to the cover. And are those knives or bolts of lightning among those angry dark clouds? Plus, Ink looks like tattoos on bronze skin.

Beautiful.

The images are so carefully crafted and intricately designed that I must pause. My eyes travel slowly over the images and take in all the book has to offer.

Plus, these cover designs defy my easy interpretation.  There are no torsos, weapons, and colors to define their themes. I’m compelled to read the book summary and then the sample chapters rather than guess their plots. The writer’s style is unexpected, and the read is thrilling (I hope). The story becomes more exciting and mysterious.

Choosing by cover even allows roaming among genres.

Like me, you probably have a favorite author (or several favorite authors). You, too, are probably awaiting the next installment of a series. So you’ve set up a calendar reminder, requested a book store notification, follow the author, and signed up for the author’s newsletter, but you still check the release date every few days.

Is that just me?

Now, I seem weird, but there are some authors for which I anxiously await the newest book. I once waited two and a half years for the last book of the series. While I waited, I reread the entire series repeatedly.

Exploring for a good cover allows more bouncing among genres because you’re less focused on sticking to what’s familiar. Instead, you can explore options and become drawn to something more creative. That’s how I jumped from romance, fantasy, erotica, sci-fi, and chick lit.

Enjoying a variety of genres and books is exciting.

Great books are out there waiting to be read. So when I become fed up with waiting, I choose a cover. The author doesn’t matter, nor does the title.

A good book is a good book.

A bit about the columnist:

Calee Jordan is a writing professor. Despite spending her days in academic and technical writing, Calee enjoys nights of fiction--among passionate couples, paranormal creatures, and other worlds. Visit author page

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