how to judge a book by its (paperback) cover

In ALL, BOOK PUBLISHING by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

If you never heard a thing about MOOSE. If you were an 18-35 year old woman, say, marching through a store, dead set on snagging up the newest [whatever floats your boat] book, which of these covers would you walk past, but then kind of double-back for? Judging a book purely on the cover, which of these would you touch and want to give a further look?
Option A:

Option B:

Option C:
Option D:


  1. Perhaps it's because I am currently reading the hard-back with this cover, but I like the first.

  2. Option D or Option A. The middle two make me think of the Brady Bunch or The Goodies…I think because of the font.

  3. I like the first one..the little girl wading into the water at camp with her tube, ready for some fun, perhaps not sure what the fuss about her weight is all about. Just a regular little girl. The next two are a little busy, and the third one is creative, but I think having the picture of the little girl on the front goes better with the title.

  4. A. clearly about a child
    if i had to pick another one, 'D' although this cover just looks like it's the cover for weight loss book.

    don't like the bathing suit colors or the back folds of the little girl on the other 2 covers

  5. I wouldn't pick it up at all if I didn't "know" you.

    FROM SK: Obviously, that's fair. The question is, then, what would you need to see to pick up a book? Also, are you a woman 10-35? I also realize that this system isn't exactly perfect, given the fact that we sometimes say one thing, but in practice would do another.

  6. I would most likely pick up option D, because it has the "chick lit" look that I always fall for.

    FROM SK: Does it bother you that it doesn't necessarily look like a memoir?

  7. i am one of those people. i completely judge a book by its cover (and its typeface, for that matter), and the only one that really catches my eye is A.

  8. I like the feeling I get when I look at the photo of the girl wading into the water. There's a sense that you're right there with her, perhaps following her. And when you read a memoir, you are reading it for the sense of experience.

  9. I love your choice, but if I had to go back and do it over, I would have chosen Option D.

    I like it because it's the sort of cover that would make me stop and read the back.. I would want to find out more. I love chick lit and like Andrea said, that sort of cover always piques my interest.

    I'm 27 by the way*

    FROM SK: We do have the chance to do something new with the paperback. It's why I'm asking.

  10. Option D has been used already somewhere…as I've seen it before. I like Option C with A's picture myself. Can ya make that happen? :-)

    FROM SK: You only saw Option D on Amazon once upon a time ago.

  11. I would pick up D.
    I like when books don't give a lot away on the cover. I like to pick it up and maybe read the flaps or, if it's a paperback, read the reviews inside.

  12. Definitely A! I have the hardcover version, but I do not think that is really swaying my opinion. Why change perfection? ;) I think the other covers look more immature/childish. Makes me think I would bypass it assuming it was more of a pre-teen book.

  13. Not really. It's definitely not as authentic as choice A, but that Tiffany blue is what I'd pick up.

  14. I am 25 years above the high end of your criteria so I did not vote. I LOVE memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, I guess that's why I love reading blogs. The senior section votes for A and I agree with the commenter who said if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  15. I guess it's all subjective because I like option B the most, and I just finished reading the book a few days ago.

    Option B would catch my attention as a book about childhood obesity.


  16. Option D and then A. But deffo D. It's not that I don't like A..but to me ..all 3 girl covers somehow give me the impression it's about girls…meaning teens. And I'm past that..I need something that represents me (and my weight problems) in my late 30s.

    I haven't read Moose by the way..I still got Straight Up & Dirty in my mind to 'move on' to something different.

  17. I find the title font and design of Option B the most original and striking and fun, but the photo just leaves me cold. Any other options? Perhaps featuring an awesomely bad-80s bathing suit?
    (Also, just turned 34, so I can still squeeze into your target demographic.)

  18. A, but I like D too. B and C are too busy, and borderline tacky looking.

    I would probably pick up A rather than D though…A looks more like a "childhood memoir" which would interest me if I wasn't familiar with the author…

    D looks more like a "weight loss memoir", I've never had a real weight problem, so while I may think the cover is attractive and creative, I might not pick it up and read the back to find out more.

  19. I chose D also. There is the chicklit factor, but I also like that it doesn't give away everything. You do have to look to see what it's about. Since all give a different impression of what's inside, I think maybe it depends on the demographic you're trying to reach. If this is for 20's and 30's to read for themselves, I'd say D, but if you're looking to reach mothers of teenage daughters who might be currently going through it, then A.

  20. B and C look a bit like a Nickolodeon made for television movie of the week to me, geared towards the 8-15 set. The former would be more of a comedy and a bit ironic whereas the latter would have more traditional after school special vibes.

    You would attract a different audience with A than you would with D. A makes it quite clear that it is a memoir—not completely chicklit but geared towards women—that maintains a good emotional center. D looks like total chick lit. I would imagine D to be more novel than memoir and even then I would think that it would play for laughs (and not always successfully) moreso than A. Also, and this may be because I don't have the book in front of me, but D looks a bit. . .unfinished. It may also be because I know that it was the Amazon placeholder, but there's something missing. It doesn't seem purposefully simple. It also doesn't convey that the book is about a young girl going to fatcamp. I might look at it and think it would be a comedic novel about a young professional having to head off to fat camp. Though a young professional would likely call it a wellness retreat, but I digress.

    I've officially overanalyzed. I vote A as is or D with tweaks.

  21. I like A – it gets your attention and is tasteful at the same time. D is dull – pictures draw you in. C makes me think she is about to go "jump in the lake" out of despair and the campy look isn't so interesting. Congrats on the paperback! PS – what were you waiting for in your earlier blog posting?

  22. I strongly prefer option A. Although there are elements I appreciate in the other three, option A is by far the most professional, polished cover.

  23. I voted A but I realize that could be a bias since it's what I am familiar with and already love, however, D is also a good cover. I don't care much for the other 2.

  24. I mistakenly voted for C, when I wanted to vote for D. So, I would go with D or A. D would make me pick up the book if I were idly browsing. It is cleaner and makes a stark statement which would make me flip; it over. B is horrendous–looks super cheap and like it was written for the lower than low-brow set. C is too busy. Hope this feedback helps.

  25. I like no. 3 best and only because it mentions you as author of SU&D, otherwise I vote for 2. But I liked 2 and 3 because they look like they would be funny.
    The only reason I voted for 2 over 3 was because I didnt like how it lookedwith the pic of the trees below the chunker on the diving board. Looks crowded but I do think you need to have "Author of SU&D" on there. It surely would have been something to catch my eye if I had seen mention of the first book.
    Good luck.

  26. For some reason in my bookstore they have Moose in the self-help/diet book isle. WAY on the other side of the store from the chick-lit section. I think location is as important as the cover choice. Do you have any control over this?

    BTW – I pick A, by far the most attractive.

  27. I'm the outcast, the Black Sheep. I choose B! B-cause (haha) it looks paperbacky to me. I don't know… maybe it's the bubble-lettering. But B 4 ME. Thank you, Stephanie.

  28. I remember seeing D on Amazon before the book was released, and was a little disappointed when you went with Option A. I know it's silly, but as a 21 year old, I would be hesistant to walk up to a bookstore counter holding a book with the picture of an overweight kid on it. I know that it's a memoir, but I think that your writing appeals to a lot of chick lit readers, and option D is more appealing to them. Just my two cents.

  29. there IS no choice here…so symbolic…. the wading in the water…. w/ it's ripple effect and the elephant ballerina tutu swimsuit…oh I have been and sometimes still am there for so many years! don't change a thing…especially the redheaded ponytail! be authentic!

  30. • A is great because it looks like a chic book about childhood but with a sophisticated design. The round, pink "o" mimicing the little girl's roundness is beautiful.
    • B is not good, I don't think it's what you are going for
    • I also love C. It has the camp feel to it that the others are lacking and I think that is essential to the viewer. It is more crafty than the first, but so is the story-jounal/craft/outdoors.
    • Although D is a beautiful design, it's too clinical looking. It doesn't say childhood or camp.

  31. A is the nicest looking, but C emphasizes the "by the author of…" bit the best… which may matter to soft-cover buyers who are more casually browsing for something they might enjoy.

    i love books and am a sucker for those books that have a kind of…tranquil cover, simple yet elegant.
    the others seem kind of loud and garish, i would probably be more likely to pass them by.

  33. My favorites: option A or D.

    The other two look like they might be geared toward children, the crazy fonts and colors look somewhat cheap, and although I haven't read the book yet (this girl always waits for the lower-priced paperbacks;) I don't think, if I didn't know your name/work that I would pick up B or C. A and D- definitely.

    (I'm 26, and I've spent 2 days this week shopping for books… keep in mind it's only Tuesday;)!

    I love reading memoirs… heartfelt, sometimes funny and dramatic memoirs. B and C look like they are only funny and nothing more.

    (Also, at 26 I constantly judge books by their covers… and their titles. "Moose" rocks). And I assume you wanted our honest opinions, sorry if it sounded harsh at all!

  34. I voted c because I wanted something different than my copy…
    Of course, I love the current cover (a)…it made me read it immediately.

  35. i read on the subway, where everyone judges the reader by the cover of his/her book…i'd probably feel like i'd get the least weird looks with the last option, but it does look a little too chick-lit/not memoir-ish.

  36. I'm older than the age group you asked for, so I didn't vote, but I still like "A". Why mess with a good thing?

  37. I voted for A. If it isn't broke don't fix it.

    Also, whatever you do, don't go for B. It's…well…it's really cheap and tacky looking. Sorry. I have no desire to offend anyone but I wouldn't pick that book up unless I had already read you and knew that I wanted to read more.

    FROM SK: Don't worry. You're not offending me.

  38. I totally buy books by looking at their cover and maybe one or two lines of the back. I hate knowing too much about one before reading it.

    I vote for A. I would pick it up in a heart beat. But D would also catch my eye, I'd probably have to flip though it a little.

  39. Also the first one just makes it seem real vs the other ones which make it seem like fiction.

  40. 33 years old here :)

    I only love and adore option A.

    The rest fall on the tacky side for me. A is perfect.

  41. I'm very fond of Option A, but I think that's because I already own the hard-cover and automatically associate "Moose" with it. I absolutely love the cover for Option C. I'd definitely pick up a book with that cover, even if I (gasp) had never heard of you or read your writing before. I know some people said it's too busy, but it has enough on the front to make me curious. And in case you were curious, I vote C-A-D-B. I'm not too fond of B; I think it's the font. A different font would tie it with Option D in my book.

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