Can you judge a book by its cover?
I recently read a thought by a writer - I want to say it was Salman Rushdie - that there is a way to judge a book by its cover.
If the author's name is larger than the title of the book, then the book isn't worth reading. The assumption seems to be that if the marketing people are trying to sell the book on the strength of the author's popularity, something must be wrong.
If you think about the darlings on the Bestseller Lists, there is a lot of truth to that. However, as I look at my own TBR pile, I find it needs some qualifiers:
- If the name is larger because it has more letters than the title, it doesn't count. Maybe there is a Font Size standard. On my copy of Salman Rushdie's Fury, for example, his name stands out more than the title, but the font is the same size. This led to;
- If the book is in its upteenth printing, and the author's name is in larger print, it gets a pass. How the marketers choose to sell a later edition is going to be different, particularly if a publisher has the rights to a whole bunch of one writer's work. I am looking at my Ward Just novels, here.
- In fact, since most paperbacks are second printings, the rule might apply there, as well.
- There is absolutely no reason for an author's name to be larger than the subject of a biography.
- Shakespeare doesn't count. Even the "histories".
I wonder how much control the authors have over this concept. Because while I am not sure this idea is a deal breaker when I am looking for books, but I am certainly judging by it.