Who judges book covers? We all do

Reading a book by its cover.

Despite that old adage, we all judge a book by its cover. Publishers in particular know that cover design is crucial to marketing and can influence sales if done right. Sometimes a particular cover can act as a shorthand to the contents within (pastel colours and cutesy illustration for romance; dark and earthy tones and big fonts for crime fiction).

Indeed, the Australian book design awards 2023 shortlist has recently been announced, showcasing some innovative and interesting cover artwork, designed not only as an exemplar of beauty but, critically, to also pique potential readers’ attention. In fact, so influential can covers be, that the Stella judges had to read submitted entries on e-devices, lest they be unfairly swayed by the aesthetic appeal (or lack thereof) of the books in contention.

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Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy