Like many readers, I judge a book by its cover—moderately. Just because the cover is a picture of people walking around in 1800s outfits doesn’t mean the book is boring. It just means that that book is probably historical fiction. Honestly, I love the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey, the tie and the masquerade mask—but that doesn’t mean I’ll read the book. So it really depends. You have to look at the descriptions or read through the first few pages. What about title? While author has little control over the cover, an author almost always comes up with his or her own title. If the title is stupid or pretentious, chances are that the book will be stupid or pretentious. If the book title is clever or intriguing, maybe the book itself will be clever or intriguing. It doesn’t always work out that way. But I’d rather judge a book by its title than by its cover.
I’m saying this because this morning at the coffee shop I had a conversation with an acquaintance over what title might draw readers to pick up a book. Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. She asked what the title means (She is not a native speaker). In politics, a casual vacancy is a situation in which a seat in a deliberative assembly is vacated during that assembly’s term. Casual vacancies arise through the death in J.K. Rowling’s novel for adults. Part of the appeal is Rowling herself, I’m curious what kind of novel she would write after Harry Potter. My friend’s take of the title is an empty seat on a train or a romantic implication. Rowling or not, I’m likely to pick up a book called Casual Vacancy. It’s intriguing title because I want to know more. What about the vacancy? What will happen? Who will fill it?
What about you? Do you judge a book by its cover or title?