Crap Looking Books occasionally draws knee-jerk responses that run along the lines of “Whatever happened to not judging a book by its cover?”
Allow to dispel this frequently misplaced idiom…
The idea of “judging a book by its cover” refers to spotting a particularly rubbish book design on the shelves, deciding that the book itself is rubbish and shunning it like the pages were dripping with sewage. It’s a terrible way to read/live, and can cause many fantastic or even so-so books to fall by the wayside, picking up negative press just for the way they look..
Crap Looking Books operates pretty much the opposite to this process. When I see a book that looks dreadful, a book sporting terrible art, gross fonts and misleading reviews or banner headings, I buy it and read it, and make my judgement based off that.
I might give the cover a quick once over, or even some deep and consistent abuse, but ultimately it is the book I am interested in, and the difference in reactions from before and after reading it. The hope is to find something interesting and new, rather than settling into something familiar and complacent.
If we’re not judging books by their covers, we’re judging them by reviews, word of mouth or popularity, which quite frankly is little or no better, since we’re still avoiding the actual content of the book. Even going on the attitudes of reviewers we trust or the output of authors we love takes judgement out of our hands until we truly pick up the thing and start reading.
Besides, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is not an idiom about books, but rather one that uses books to make a point about the appearances of anything but books.
So what happened to not judging books by their covers?
Well.. nothing happened. I’m judging books, and I’m judging their covers. I’m not about to start confusing the two.