Do you tend to pick up books based on the covers of other books?

I found this interesting article.

The most interesting part I found was this:

When Raynor Winn published her break-out bestseller The Salt Path in 2018, the incredibly talented Angela Harding was the talent behind the cover.

3 years later, when Patrick Barkham published his book The Wild Isles, the cover looked strikingly familiar - because Angela Harding had been commissioned to illustrate it (below).

Thanks to Harding’s unique design style, Barkham’s new book looks very different to all his others - but very similar to Raynor Winn’s.

The psychology at play here means that I - a reader who enjoyed Winn’s book a lot - will now feel more inclined to pick up Barkham’s book, on the measure that there must be a similar level of quality and type between them.

Do you pick up books because it’s similar to a different book’s cover? (not that you would always purchase it, however) It’s related to cover trends. Once Caraval started making sales, so many books copied that similar font style. If you bought Caraval, did you buy similar looking books from different authors with the expectation it might have a similar vibe?

For me, I don’t rely on looking for similar book cover designs of a book I liked when picking up a new book because I recognize a book that does well tends to have copycat covers following after it’s market success. I’ll notice a similar cover and think, “Huh, you too” and move on. Unless of course the title intrigues me.

But then one can argue that I am attracted to the similar cover, because I do pause and look to see what’s up.

What about you?
And any additional thoughts about the article?


I usually go after a specific type of book cover. Though, it varies depending on genre. With fanfics, I’m more lenient for example than Indie or Trad Pub covers. However, most book covers I find on Wattpad that is underneath the Paid program as very bad quality compared to what I’ve seen in stores.

If Wattpad wants to compete with Trad Pub book covers, they’ve a LONG way to go. I’m peculiar for a reason for my book covers. If the book cover seems off in any way - being too similar to another famous book, I probably won’t pick up to read at all. Unless I know it’s from a book series I’m currently reading.

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Definitely. Wattpad seems to be stuck in time. If I were to make a book cover similar to current trad pub covers, no one would pick it up :stuck_out_tongue: Or someone would say I need a person on it, or whatever.

What types of book covers are you most likely drawn to? Is it different between indie, trad pub, and Wattpad?

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Having a person on the book cover is actually quite popular across many genres. Though, the person is usually partly hidden in some way. At least in Trad Pub. I rarely see the appeal of Object-based book covers; they’re unpersonal to me. They need to have a very specific item for me to at all remember an Object-based cover, they’re like invisible to my mind. I rarely pick up an Item-based book cover, they’re not my cup of tea.

Mostly, in all books, be it indie, trad, or writing sites - I go for highly manipulated book covers with one or multiple people on it. I like it specifically well if small details are added into it that later play a role in the story. If you check out my profile on Wattpad, you can easily see the trend of what kind of book covers I go for.

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Most of my actual book purchases fall into two categories:

Convenience Romances:

you can find them at Walmart. They have like 3 cover patterns. It’s not the varied pattern of any other genre. It’s not meant to stand above the crowd. But that’s not what you’re looking for, there. I see more variation when I’m looking for a specific romance writer’s novels because they aren’t all produced for a grocery store, and I’m looking for a book store at that point.

Staple following:

And that’s where I am with my main writers for scifi and fantasy: their writing spans decades and cover trends, and I’m looking for used books by titles. I don’t spend any time looking at the cover, save for maybe the Foreigner series (the covers have angular Dark Elves modded for Scifi purposes).

So I rarely get to follow a book cover trend as a reason to buy a book.


Interesting look at design psychology.

I can’t say I pick up books because they look similar to ones I enjoyed. That is crazy! I don’t have the budget or the shelf space to impulse buy because they look good. If I’m going to a bookstore, it’s always purposeful.

I go to bookstores if:

A) I’m looking for a specific book that’s not available at my local library, and the ebook cost is not much different from the physical copy

B) I’m in a new city/town/region where I want to buy a book by a local author. (I have this ritual where I buy books from local authors as a memento when I travel)

C) I’m looking for an older edition of the book with a cover design I want. I’ve started to collect SFF books with vintage covers (the pulpy painted ones with swords, dragons, wizards, the hero on a quest, and sexy ladies)


I suppose third one came about because the UK editions of modern SFF started looking the same to me. It’s the same white cover, big titles, a sketch of someone in black with a single stroke of a colour (for example, the UK editions of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive and RF Kuang’s The Poppy War). (But also my general disillusionment with modern SFF).

I think bookstagram aesthetics have ruined book covers. It’s so muted and ‘corporate approved’, I’m like can I just get a damn wizard doing cool shit?! But I know most don’t want to be seen reading a book outside with a crazy fantasy painting. Apparently the UK public has a perception that it’s “childish”.

Contemporary/ literary fiction covers I’m not too fussed about. But they do look the same. I don’t think people pay much attention to covers of those books anyway. Well, I don’t.


What does this cover remind you of?

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I actually like different ones. I dunno. I usually search for books on a subject if I am after something. The last book I picked off the display case in the library was this one, and I read the blurb and the beginning to see if i was interested. I am planning to read her other book next, rather than search for another cover that looks like that

The cover of that book is just black and white photography


I’ve yet to read the article (waiting for a class to start rn), but I wouldn’t be surprised. There is a lot of thought that goes into professional design - whether it be for book covers or anything else. A lot of stuff we don’t even think about but just subconsiously do are played to the advantage of the publisher.
I didn’t quite realize how important this is until I started pursuing design as a degree (not yet in college, just taking steps towards it)


I feel like this is not a question people may be able to answer accurately, because often it’s not a conscious process. Like I probably won’t think “Oh this cover looks just like that other cover. I gotta buy it!” but subconsciously my brain might associate certain shapes, colors, poses, etc with something I’ve liked in the past, and therefore pick that specific book up.

I get a newsletter with offers on e-books from BookBub every day and I usually browse through these rather quickly, looking for anything that catches my attention. And yes, the covers do have a lot to do with that. There needs to be something there that tells me “This one is special” and I have to admit that I don’t quite know what that is.


I dont think i really go specifically after covers that look like other covers. I just go after covers i like with books i like.

I do tend to lean more towards covers that are more object based or something over people. A lot of fantasy covers all look the same when they have both the female and male standing in a fighting pose together on the front and im just not a fan. Youll rarely seen those book covers in my shelves. I do however go for book covers that have hidden art under the dust jacket. :wink: Those are seriously my favorite.


Fie! Behold the plight of modern fantasy covers!


Most of my favorite novels have perfectly awful covers, so I think I’m pretty much immune to book covers now. And years ago I learned the hard way that too many crappy writers try to ride the coattails of successful writers. For instance, a lot of vapid, shallow books now have covers similar to Sally Rooney novels, even though those other books have no depth.

That comparison of 1984 covers through the years is interesting, though. I got a free copy of that book from Project Gutenberg Canada that had no cover, so I made my own. Personally, I think it’s better than any of the professional covers, and I did it for free. ( ^◡^)っ✂



It reminds me that I once picked it up at the bookstore, realized how long the series was, and put it back because at the time, my wallet was crying :stuck_out_tongue:


It’s that splash of color trend.


Disclaimer - I haven’t read the article, but I did pop in to say I do buy books based on how pretty the cover is :joy: That only applies to books I don’t really know, though. For example, I’m really into Elly Griffiths lately (Agatha Christie-like crime fiction, easy to digest) and the covers aren’t extraordinary, but I know I’ll like the books. This one time I bought a book because I loved the cover (and, subsequently, the blurb), I ended up being very disappointed by the book. So I definitely love a pretty, eye-catching cover, but I try not to base my decision solely on that lol. Though it definitely influences which books I pick up to read the blurb of or not.


What about books with covers similar to the covers of books you loved? (I hope that question isn’t confusing…)


I agree. But maybe in hindsight you realize you might be doing it? Not that you would buy it, but that you would pick it up and check the blurb. Because I think I’ve done that as long as the cover trend wasn’t oversaturated by the time I noticed other books copying my favorite book’s cover.


Not that you would buy it, but that you would at least pick it up and check it out. Have you done that?

That’s so awesome! I love that :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Have you found any interesting gems so far?