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Do Book Covers Really Matter?

Do Book Covers Really Matter?

By Beth Mishler

Book covers have been in the news an uncharacteristic amount lately. First, there’s the very popular word-of-mouth Tumblr site, MATCHBOOK, on which lit fanatics (or beach bums) can browse a bunch of popular book covers paired with bikinis that match them. If you haven’t seen this site yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment are among the titles that have bikinis so coolly color coordinated with their covers, it’s uncanny. Even the guys get some love with an I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell cover with matching swim trunks. It’s pretty fab.

Then, there was NPR’s recent  interview with Chip Kidd, an artist and author of the recent graphic novel Batman: Death by Design. Kidd has also designed book covers for 25 years, for the likes of Michael Crichton and Haruki Murakami, among others. Kidd wondered about the ways in which eBooks might change the way we look at books. Literally. “Books need a face. They need some kind of visual representation,” he told NPR.

He says book jackets engage and attract the reader, which is something that could potentially be lost the more books become digitized. Kidd likened book covers to “name tags at singles parties,” saying that very often, you see one from across the room; something about its aesthetics attracts you as, and you approach it.

Kidd remains optimistic about his profession, though, and says he feels that there is plenty of room for books of all forms. “Hardcover books are, frankly, luxury items... and I think there will always be a market for them,” he says.

All this interest in book covers has us wondering—how much do they really matter? How important are they in relation to the book overall? So, to all you book-loving Masterminds, we pose the question:

exactly how much do you judge a book’s cover? How important is it?

Tags: batman, publishing, ebooks, books-and-comics, hardcover books

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About the Author
Beth Mishler

Beth Mishler is a writer, producer, and pop culture connoisseur who has a weakness for the Whedonverse and all things sci-fi. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Beth currently lives in The Plains, Ohio, where she freelances, makes documentaries, and watches a kazillion hours of TV per week while anxiously awaiting the release of George R.R. Martin's next novel.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.