We all know we shouldn’t, and yet we all do. You know what I’m talking about. (No, not that). Yes, that’s right…. Buy a book because of its cover.
As ebooks sales decline and physical books recover some lost ground, some commentators have put this down to the power of the book cover. You only need to go on Instagram for a micro-second to comprehend the appreciation (festishisation?) for the beauty of books – books being playful with fairy lights, books relaxing on beaches, books lying seductively on beds. You can’t create that kind of reverential ambience with your Kindle Fire or Kobi, no matter what.
As a consequence of this renaissance of the beautiful book cover, when I walk into a bookshop these days, more than ever I think, I’m confronted with a visual feast. This makes it oh so much harder for me to resist – not that I’m complaining too much, mind.
Here are five books I bought recently simply because I love their covers.
by Brit Bennett
Cover designed by Rachel Willey
As I casually scanned my local bookshop shelves one day, my eyes kept jumping back to this book. How could it not? At first the cover is one thing, but on closer inspection it’s morphs into something different. Now that I’ve read it, I can attest that the novel inside lives up to its packaging.
by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti
An image of this cover came through in an email alert from another local bookshop. Within hours I was driving to the shop. I walked in, bought it, and walked back out again. And now it’s mine. It’s not a hugely different take on the fairy tale, but it’s a beautiful book to hold, and the illustrations are outstanding.
by Sun Mi Hwang
Cover by Brianna Harden
With this book, it’s not just the art on the cover, but the texture and size of the book too. It’s small and slim and the paper is slightly rough to the fingertips. Plus, how could anyone go past a title like that, and with the first chapter called ‘I refuse to lay another egg!’? If that’s not enough, there’s more simple but lovely illustrations inside.
by Sarah Perry
Cover inspired by the tiles of William Morris
Sarah Perry has said, ‘if the book had had some more conventional historical fiction cover – a woman striding out over marshland, for instance – it would have misrepresented the book and I think been far less appealing to readers. And I would have been appalled!’. (See here). This cover is nothing short of beautiful, and it’s rising very close to the top of my reading pile. Can’t wait to get stuck into this.
by Hiromi Kawakami
Cover by Natsumi Hayashi
Quirky. But also really inviting. Natsumi Hayashi’s website has a series of photos like the one on this cover, all called ‘Today’s Levitation’. There are women flying around tatami rooms, up escalators and across lakes. But I think this photo is my favourite. I just know I’m going to love this book.
Tell me about the books you’ve bought because of their covers? Did they live up to their packaging?