Covers? No Covers!

This week on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop, our wonderful host Julie has set the theme COVERS. Despite the old adage, “never judge a book by its cover”, the simple fact is, we do. All the time. And for good reason. It helps us get a feel for what the book is about and if it’s something we’ll be interested in. Helps us cut through the masses of volumes out there to find something we’d like to read.

If you see on a cover a long-haired woman busting out of a corset, being held by a bare-chested hunk, you know instantly it’s an historical romance, and whether that’s for you or not. If you see a dagger dripping with blood on a black background, chances are it’s a murder mystery. If you see…well, you get my point. There are very calculated reasons why publishers choose the covers they do and there are marketing professionals out there smarter than me getting paid big bucks to figure all that out.

So I’m not going to go there.

But what if, just imagine, there were NO COVERS.

What if all that was printed on a book cover was the title and author’s name. twilight coverTWILIGHT, before it became a movie and we all knew what it was about, without its black and red theme and the imagery of temptation in the apple, might well be a story about an old couple falling in love in their ‘twilight years’. Who knows?

cross stitch coverAnd Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER, which was first published in Australia under the title CROSS STITCH, might well have been a non-fiction book about needle work if it weren’t for the cover suggesting it was actually a novel with something to do with Scottish standing stones.


And let’s take this one step further. What if there were NO COVERS and NO TITLES?

Well, people, it’s being done! Sort of. I saw this first somewhere on social media and the idea is intriguing. It’s known as Blind Date with a Book.

Close to home, Elizabeth’s Bookstore in Sydney is doing it. And a quick search on google brings up a plethora of results, so this is really a thing. Everywhere.

a selection from Elizabeth's Book Store Blind Date with  Book

a selection from Elizabeth’s Book Store Blind Date with a Book

Basically the staff at the book store wrap (a) book(s) in brown paper and use a few key words to describe the book.

blind date booksCan you imagine picking a book like this? At the moment it’s just a bit of a gimmick to get people to read outside their comfort zone, or a fun way to gift books. And I think it’s a great idea. I don’t know if I’d be game enough to try it. What if I got something that was totally not my thing? But then, that is the whole point, right? And apparently if you get something you’ve already read, you can exchange it. So maybe it’s worth a go. Might be a bit of fun.

And that’s what is – a bit of fun, and any idea that’s fun and gets people reading, is alright in my book (no pun intended).

But, hang on, just wait.

What if this takes off?

What it becomes more than a bit of fun?

What if it becomes a publishing norm (you know, cost-cutting and all)?

Imagine if this was the ONLY way to purchase a book? No more pretty covers, no titles, no author name, no blurb on the back! No. NO! I couldn’t live in a world without all the pretty covers.nooooo oooooo

What about you? Would you ever blind date a book?


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21 thoughts on “Covers? No Covers!

  1. Krystal Jane

    Okay. I MUST have my pretty covers, but I am totally game for this being a section in every bookstore. I love it! I’m not a murder mystery fan, but I read one a couple of years ago that I absolutely loved. So something like this would be a great way to expose people like me to new books.

    But there better be a pretty cover underneath! I need something!! Lol!

  2. Gail

    Yep I’m game – a few key words would be all I need to jump in! I am always seduced by the cover, I admit freely, so words would be great to get me out of my visual comfort zone.

  3. Jayne Denker

    I love this idea–I would absolutely pick a book without being able to see the cover! While artwork (and a title trend, for that matter–“A [noun] of [a second, unrelated noun] and [a third, even more unrelated noun]” now telegraphs a fantasy, thanks to George RR Martin) are handy bits of shorthand to let you know what’s between the covers, it also prevents us from taking a chance. We should take more chances in our reading–we might be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Laurie

    I’d love to try the wrapped book purchase–especially if I trusted the booksellers 🙂 I’ve purchased many books based on the shelf talkers “Staff recommends” at bookstores, but I always gravitate to the same employee choices.
    And, yes, a good cover will get me every time.

    1. sandiedocker Post author

      Thanks for dropping by Laurie and welcome to the hop.

      We are creatures of habit, aren’t we. This is a great way to break free of that once in a while.

  5. Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie

    Crazy thing, but I’ve seen books wrapped in a similar fashion in brown paper at a local indie bookstore in my town (Chop Suey Books in Richmond, VA). Hm. What’s behind this? Who thought of it? I think it’s brilliant. Although, strange enough, I’ve never bought one. I suppose that tells you everything you need to know about me and how much I value book covers. Because clearly, as adventurous as I can be with books and book buying, I’ve never actually bought one of those. Hm. Maybe I should…

    1. marychrisescobar

      Yes! I’ve contemplated the shelf of these at Chop Suey Books as well– but haven’t been brave enough to grab one…. maybe I’ll do a Blind Date Books & Brews post one of these days. Let me know if you decide to take the plunge, we can do it together!

      1. sandiedocker Post author

        You should SO totally do it together. If I didn’t live on the other side of the world we could make it a trio and make a weekend of it. Do our blind date book, rearrange the shelves like in Julie’s post, and then you could sort us out with an appropriate beverage to celebrate our awesome weekend.

        I can feel a plan coming together….

  6. Cassandra Piat

    I actually saw that somewhere at the end of the year and was so tempted to buy it but’ didn’t in the end – not adventurous enough I guess 😦 It was too much of a risk and wanted to read something I chose. But I think its a fun way to do it – although I’d need some clue as to what kind of a book it was. But nothing beats a great book cover 🙂

    1. sandiedocker Post author

      Books covers tell us so much. And they are the book’s best marketing tool (other than personal recommendation). That’s why the publishing houses spend so much time (and money) getting them “right”.

      It does look like fun. Hope we both are brave enough to try it one day. 🙂

  7. Suze

    I would definitely blind date a book as I like a challenge, but I love pretty covers, so I want to keep them. I can look at my beautiful books for hours. I buy books because of the story, but the covers are such a great bonus. One I don’t want to lose.


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