Wednesday 18 April 2012

C is for Covers - Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover

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Recently, my husband and I saw the movie 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. It was charming and delightful and a joy from start to finish.

But it got me thinking about covers and book titles and how much they influence our decision to buy and/or read a book.

When I started searching for covers on google, I found this movie poster on the right. I fell in love with the vivid colours and the symmetry in the design.

My first thought was "I wish this was the cover on the book".

But the cover looks like this.....

All these actors did a wonderful job to bring this movie alive, but I don't want them on the cover of my book!

And, of course, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not even the name of the book!

It was first published with the title "These Foolish Things" and had an even less appealing cover than the movie tie-in cover.

I also think the original title fails to capture the imagination or adequately describe the story.

The title The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel also fails to tell you anything about the story, but it's a better fit, especially after you've seen the movie.

I came away from the movie curious to read the book which is what got me started on this topic.

My local Independent bookshop had the movie tie-in cover book on its shelves....and in the end I just couldn't buy it.

But if the book had had the lovely purple and marigold movie poster as its cover I honestly believe I would have walked out of that shop with a new book in my hand (actually I did walk out of the bookshop with a new book in my hand, it just wasn't The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!!)

I also found this movie poster...

Even this picture as a cover would have been enough to tip me over the edge to purchase the book.

Maybe I'm just a movie tie-in cover snob?

Perhaps I think that photographs of people on covers only belong on biographies?

All I know is that the cover of a book, in this instance, had a huge impact on my decision to buy (or not) a book.

We may not necessarily judge a book by its cover, but we do use it is as one of the decision making options when shopping for something to read.


  1. True! A good cover will make me pick up a book to read the book blurb. Whether or not I buy the book depends on the blurb and the first page, but the cover plays a crucial role in the process.

  2. You've raised some very good points here. Sometimes we do judge a book by the cover, whether we mean to or not.

  3. So valid! But in defense of the original, it was its bright and quirky design that caught my eye and after reading the blurb I bought it. I lent it to so many people that oneday it never made it home. Somewhere, some lucky person has a non-movie cover version they can be proud of (assuming their conscience about not returning it to its rightful owner does not bother them).

    I can't remember if I figured out where the original title came from though. Does the movie reference the song at all?

    1. People who don't return books is another one of my bug-bears - don't get me started!!
      I believe the movie missed the lovely opportunity to include one of the many versions of These Foolish Things in it's score. It may have popped up incidently in the movie though, but I wasn't listening out for it at the time.


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