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Don’t Judge A Book By The Cover, Right?

Everyone is taught not to judge a book by the cover. I remember in elementary school, our classes would go to the library at the beginning of each year. There, our school librarian would demonstrate that the proper way to decide on a book was to randomly open to a page, read the contents for a few minutes, and proceed to gauge the author’s writing style and determine if the story sounded interesting. Even at a young age I thought, “who has time for this?” I said then and I say now, wipe out the wives tales and eliminate the euphemisms. The best way to judge a book is by the cover!

I’m not the only one who feels this way, as designers spend plenty of time, and publishers spend plenty of money conjuring up clever, enticing, and unique book covers to catch the attention of readers. It is quite a daunting task to make one book stand out amongst hundreds, maybe thousands of other books on a library, book store, or local retail book shelf. Yet, designers meet this challenge time and time again.

Probably the most popular book covers on the shelves today belong to the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers. The covers of this quartet of books all share a thematic design concept. Each cover has a black background with a single crisp photograph that contains some blood red attribute that is a symbolic representation of the major concept or theme of each book. These designs have become iconic to the books and even the movies created based on them. So much so that jewlery, t-shirts, posters, and other merchandise have been manufactured featuring the same designs. Even satirical book covers, t-shirts, and posters have been created mimicking the design theme used in the original book covers. The designs have become a part of the cultural phenomenon surrounding the series and movies.

It just goes to show the importance of designing a good  book cover. Book cover design can be the epicenter of a major cultural trend, like with Twilight or it can simply launch a book to the top of the New York Times best seller list. Regardless, these covers are proof positive that readers completely judge books by the cover.

Twilight Book Covers


  1. laurenguiffre wrote:

    I had never seen them and I just love these covers! Do you know who the designer was/ or the design firm commissioned?… The beginning of your blog made me laugh- I had a librarian at my school who used to say the same thing and I was like-“umm, no.” It takes too much time to read one page and figure out whether or not its good, especially if you’re going to purchase this book. Looks are everything when it comes to a book cover.

    Monday, October 19, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Sarah Yarbrough wrote:

    Gail Doobinin is the designer for the series. Roger Hagadone is the photographer.

    Monday, October 19, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  3. anonymous designer wrote:

    Was there an original book cover for the design of the first release of the Twilight book?

    Was it redesigned in 2006 for the series?

    Just wondering because I e-mailed a lot of sample book covers in early 2006, one of which is the exact composition and color scheme of the new cover.

    Ideas are ripped off all the time, but I just want to rule it out if that was the original cover in 2005.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink
  4. Sarah Yarbrough wrote:

    I’m sure there were many ideas before the book publishers decided on these covers to publish. This is the original book cover from 2005. The only cover re-designs promote the movies and have photographs of the movie characters from 2008. I don’t think anyone ripped off your designs.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I agree.

    But there are times when marketing or the author or whatever other powers that be come in and say “we want this:” and show you something they’ve seen.

    However, I believe in this case it is a coincidence.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

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  1. In which I am judgmental about covers « Eimear Ryan on Monday, May 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    […] and/or subject matter, but appeals to the book’s target audience (much as I dislike Twilight, the cover art for the series is incredibly striking and pretty much irresistible to gloomy teens). Ergo, chicklit covers love their pastels and opulent […]