Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?


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    If Sherlock Holmes can deduce a man from a glance, then why not judge a book by its cover. Sherlock Holmes looks at a man's Knees before he deduces anything from the man. Would there be any key details on the cover of a book (or anime) that can tell us anything about the story? to use an example of a series I have not read yet, Vol 1 of The Master of Ragnarok and Blesser of Einherjar has the MC on a throne surrounded by three girls so this will be a Harem and likely a True Harem since the Cover is the Harem King cover. The Blonde girl to the left will likely be the Seductive girl while the silver-haired girl in the top-right will likely be more serious, the pinkish haired girl at the bottom-right probably be tame or shy.

    Edit: You can also read the Synopsis but they usually do not tell you about the story or at least the nothing important. so what about reading the Synopsis in a different way too, a way that can tell us about the story.


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    I pretty much only judge whether I want to get interested in a series based on the cover and title for light novels I know nothing about. Descriptions of the book can range from covering only the first two or three pages, to covering half the story. Prefer to go in more blind to the story than that (although, you could argue you get more spoilers from certain covers and inserts, but again, this is why I do research, to find the books that tease just enough without giving things away, like who the main love interest is).

    Sometimes I go through the series to see how predictable the covers are too. Like, is there a different girl on every cover? Does the final cover have the first cover girl now in a wedding dress? Are there too many different women together on each cover, indicating a harem? How far into the background does the protagonist fade as the publisher's try to sell through novels by placing the girls closer and closer to front and center? xD


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    @terrence said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    Does the final cover have the first cover girl now in a wedding dress?

    Spice and Wolf Vol 17. also every Volume has Holo as Centre stage on the cover. Also, the Title can also tell you something too, For Spice and Wolf the "Spice" Represents Lawrence and the "Wolf" Holo, so this can be seen as "Lawrence and Holo" aka this series will focus closely on these two characters. Sometimes the Title does not tell you something like the case for Danmachi.


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    I think the covers are a better for determining genre, tone, and a couple key aspects. Is it sci-fi, rom-com, fantasy, etc? However, the purpose of covers and titles is sell the book by trying to catch people's attention. I don't know what the light novel shelf space in Japanese bookstores is like, but I've heard it's competitive. Maybe some of the translators living in Japan could describe that better.

    Although, your deductions for Ragnarok were too bad. It is a harem story, and you did nail the personalities of two of the girls. However, this is a small spoiler, the most important girl isn't on the cover.


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    @eins I think the Cover should do two things,

    1. tell you what the book is like (like you said)

    2. be a great cover (sells the book like you said)

    I am also guessing that I was off with the Bottom-right girl, I had some trouble finding words to describe my prediction with her.



  • Tbh covers are like first impressions also if it looks cool I’ll most likely bite, if not the chances are lower now. So yeah I do most of the time judge a book by its cover. This also applies to anime for me only to come back to it years later to kick myself in the butt for not watching it sooner because I got the wrong impression from the cover/thumbnail picture.


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    Volumes 1 + 3 - Front and center. Seems like this could have a really great main character that drives the plot!

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    Volume 4 + 5 - I'm still here even if I'm not the center of attention. Don't forget about me.

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    Volume 6 + 7 - RIP in pieces.

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    https://bookwalker.jp/de2bb4512d-6e99-414c-9882-3862e3112fe3/?acode=WpfPW3yk


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    you wouldnt happen to know the name of this would you? My skills at google translate arent so good.


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    @galactuskahn24 said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    you wouldnt happen to know the name of this would you? My skills at google translate arent so good.

    The one I posted is titled "Let's Manage the Tower". So yeah, I think they're managing a dungeon or castle? IDK, I gotta look at the description. xP

    Edit: Yeah, it sounds like he


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    Ok, so I am reviving this old thread, one reason being that there are many new licenses that I plan to try and judge based on the cover. Though I will start with a manga cover that we had in English for a long time now, but I only just recently got it (I just got it a few hours ago and have not read it yet).

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    Ok, mine says "Shonen Sunday" at the top not "Viz Media" so I will make that clear right now. so this would tell me that this is made for a male audience so I can infer that the Protagonist is the blue haired guy in the back and that his name is Hayate as the title tells me. The girl in the foreground is most likely the main heroine (and most likely the rich girl or master in the series). the characters are teenagers with the guy being older and the girl being slightly younger (most likely by 2-3 years difference). I say the main character Hayate is either 15 or 16, thus making the main heroine be 12-14. This volume will take place during winter with the snow and the moonlit background. So this looks like it will take place in our world or close to it, I feel like it will be an absurd comedy in a similar vein as Sgt Frog as the Title contains "Combat Butler."]

    now onto the back and Synopsis! yep definitely an absurd comedy with that synopsis. it has a maid looking character who will probably play the straight man and Hayate the MC with cat ears and looking very feminine and he has tears in his eyes. I infer that he will be forced to cross-dress sometime during this volume and it will likely be a long-running joke or will happen many times again (maybe for something like stealth).


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    @drone205 said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    Ok, mine says "Shonen Sunday" at the top not "Viz Media"

    If I remember correctly, each volume switches off which label is on it, for some reason, or at least my copies do. So v2 would say "Shounen Sunday," v3 would come back to "VIZ Media," etc.


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    Depends on the genre expectations. I don't even bother with the cover for foreign publishing because of licensing issues. I'll give an example below...

    @drone205 said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    @terrence said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    Does the final cover have the first cover girl now in a wedding dress?

    Spice and Wolf Vol 17. also every Volume has Holo as Centre stage on the cover. Also, the Title can also tell you something too, For Spice and Wolf the "Spice" Represents Lawrence and the "Wolf" Holo, so this can be seen as "Lawrence and Holo" aka this series will focus closely on these two characters. Sometimes the Title does not tell you something like the case for Danmachi.

    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ContemptibleCover

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    Ok, look at that cover. That was the pre-licensing Spice and Wolf cover. Would you be more or less likely to read Spice and Wolf, because it sure looks like an erotic Harlequin than it does about economics? (And yes, I own every single erotic American Holo cover, because those were all first run prints. They get more adult that this too.)

    For reasons like that, I make it a point to not judge a book by its cover for genre fiction especially science fiction and mystery. The same people who design those covers design them for the light novels as well in the American publishing industry. I am really happy that j-novel does not fall into that trap and makes it a point to license the images from the original Japanese, even though they are stylistically "cute" at times and not quite as "serious" as American covers.


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    @alocervancouver said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    For reasons like that, I make it a point to not judge a book by its cover for genre fiction especially science fiction and mystery.

    I remember a common truism about never trusting a SF cover, especially if the publisher is Baen. As in the book contents could be anything and of any level of quality, and the cover illustration will have almost nothing to do with what actually happens in the book.

    There's also a few comments from Terry Pratchett about the various book covers he's had, ranging from the colourful and busy UK ones to the minimalistic US ones. Apparently sometimes characters are spot-on (Josh Kirby's Rincewind), sometimes characters are kind of off (Josh Kirby's Granny Weatherwax), and sometimes the artist has no idea what they're supposed to be doing (in The Colour Of Magic, Twoflower gets nicknamed "Four-Eyes" due to his spectacles, so the cover artist literally drew him with four eyes).

    In the case of light novel covers, it's mostly a case that the more prominent a cute girl is on the cover, the more likely it is that I'll check it out. If the girl looks happy, bonus points. If the girl is draped over an evil-looking man, negative points. In actual practice, this hasn't actually helped me sort out light novels to my tastes, so it's not a very good method.


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    https://bookwalker.jp/de61d6426e-d87a-4aa4-ad53-d6e26ae511cb/?acode=WpfPW3yk

    ^ They saw Darling in the Franxx, so they thought they could capitalize on it.

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    https://bookwalker.jp/de59ac46f9-246d-4792-a126-b96529288782/?acode=WpfPW3yk

    Guy falls for girl in class. Girl turns out to be a succubus. It does not change their relationship too much. Hijinks ensue. Maybe more monster girls appear in each volume (assuming this gets a volume 2).

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    "Group transfer by class, but the strongest I am being disguised as the weakest merchant"

    The description says "We had a party with three beautiful girls (Tsundere, Loli, o shitoyaka / Ladylike)". So, which girls are which? You'd assume the blonde drill hair is ladylike... But she could be Loli too (although it's probably the girl up top). Is the Tsundere clinging to the guy? That seems contradictory. 🤔

    @alocervancouver said in Is it possible to (accurately) judge a book by its cover?:

    Ok, look at that cover. That was the pre-licensing Spice and Wolf cover.

    American covers are so bad. But maybe I've lost to my 2D overlords and these horrible B-movie looking photo or ultra realistic art covers are better in the eyes of most Westerners.

    Kind of reminds me of the 3D render vs 2D art covers in gaming too (I don't know what is winning out these days, probably renders, though renders look better these days).


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    @Terrence I have a challenge for you, that I will just assume you will accept. if I can find a series where Volume one has a girl in a wedding dress before you do, then you have to change your profile pic on JNC Forums. Now that you CLEARLY accepted this challenge, let me point to this!!!
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    The main guy with that polearm or whatever is the main "love interest." Now we can safely say he is an "Exorcist Knight" as the girl is clearly the bride. the bride has her hands bound so this can mean that she is trapped possibly by fate or something, could also mean that the "love interest(s)" are quite positive of her. I feel like there is a monster or a demon or something (maybe a vampire) claimed her as his bride with those feathers symbolizing this demon. now the boy or Exorcist Knight looks like he is also possessive of her (or at least at the start), I mean just look at his hand on her chin. He also probably also protects her from this demon as well (Stockholm Syndrome?).

    Now @Terrence since you CLEARLY accepted this challenge, I say you have to change your profile pic too... mmmm...Aha this

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    this will mean your singing will not put ppl to sleep anymore ;)

    Edit: Oh Nooooooes! I only said @Terrence only had to change his profile pic, Not to one I picked. Lets hope he does not pick up on this!

    Edit the second: OH Noooooooooes again!!!! I did not say he had to make the change permanent or have had it for any specific time-frame so he could just change for a few seconds and switch back! Lets hope he also does not figure this out too.


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    I'll pick a nice shiny new profile pick later if I find a good one... But this is the last time you'll bamboozle me into taking a challenge I never agreed to.

    Clause A: "Terrence shall never accept any challenge that Terrence did not quote in their comment field".

    Clause B: "Any Challenges accepted must have reasonable conditions. If the Challenger gathers all their material before said match and gives an unreasonable amount of time for Terrence to counter, challenge shall be null and void".

    xP


    While I'm here, judging some covers:

    If you see a provocative light novel cover, chances are the content inside is worse.

    If there are less than 3 female characters on the cover and more than 3 guys, there is a good chance you're looking at a girl targeted light novel. Chances are if both gals look happy on the cover one of the girls won't be involved in any major romance / already married, so she'll be support. At least that's how I see it. x)


  • Member

    Is it possible? Sure.

    There is nothing impossible about it depending on the potential reader's accumulated experience and how accurate to the content the cover is.
    Here's the thing though... it all depends more on the later factor than the former and to be fair, any light novel producer's aim is first and foremost to "sell".

    Over 90% of purchase decision of a product comes from the "packaging" presentation. For light novels, the cover of the book IS the "packaging"... a book with eye-catching cover would be more likely to sell than those that aren't.

    Of course, in best scenario, the cover would give the potential reader some idea about what the content is about but to there are also definitely some book whose cover shows little resemblance to the actual content just so that they "sell".

    In my personal experience, Light novels that usually adapted from previously successful Web Novels tend to have cover that represents the content somewhat accurately. It is largely because there was less incentive to "trick" their potential buyers.


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    I'm fairly old, and have easily bought over 1000 books based on a cover. Offhand, I feel comfortable claiming 99 percent success rate.