Judging a Book Cover




The Cover That Judges You challenges the old adage of not judging a book by its cover by judging the reader instead. It is a book cover to be fitted over other books.


As you approach, a camera attached to the book scans your face and emotions.

“Only when you approach it without any judgment, it will unlock.” And the book will open, allowing you to read it.




No judgment, in this case, means a neutral expression (so this means you cannot be too excited to read the book either).

The creator, Thijs Biersteker, from the Dutch creative agency Moore, states that “I often worry about my scepticism and judgment getting in the way of my amazement. Judgment should never hinder enthusiasm of seeing things for the first time.”


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Perhaps this cover would have been useful recently as I read Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett.   This engaging Nigerian novel of a man who wakes up to find himself suddenly White not only has quite a fun and provocative title but the symbol of a rotund buttock on its cover.





Reading in the doctor’s waiting room, I suddenly remembered what was on the cover and gently tucked it under the pages…..


to find out more about the book cover, visit the website at http://thecoverthatjudgesyou.com



56 thoughts on “Judging a Book Cover

  1. Funny … I saw the cover of Blackass as binoculars, not buttocks! I think that so long as we are human, we will judge, and it’s not a bad thing. First impressions count, but keeping an open mind to balance the judgement should not hinder us from experiencing new things.

    • I wonder if the buttocks aren’t a Rorschach test of sorts, haha! The buttocks, as the title suggests, have some importance in the novel so that’s why I know they are buttocks but it’s true that they are suggested on the cover rather than anything else. And I agree with you about human judgment, it’s not necessary negative. Thanks for stopping by, Eden.

  2. Interesting… I don’t think I judge a book by its cover…. But I have preconceived ideas about the book before I read it, like judgment of others (friends or critics)…. And as soon as I start reading I have only my own judgement on the book….
    I am reading Black Ass just now….and so far enjoying it a lot…..

  3. Thanks for letting us know about Biersteker’s work. It’s interesting, too, that he’s from a creative agency. I know all too many “creative” types who are interested more in work that conforms and fits, rather than what surprises and makes us a wee bit uncomfortable.

  4. The first thought that came to mind – it’s like a secret code to open a door, a treasure chest. Remember the scene from Indiana Jones when he searches for the Holy Grail? “When we get to Alexandretta, we will face 3 challenges: First ‘The Breath of God’ only the penitent man will pass….” This is a brilliant idea. We forget that we approach reading with personal values and morality systems. But it is the reading that opens our minds to possibilities. Love your posts!!

    • The reader as Indiana Jones, what a fun idea. Mystery novels could have special covers or parts of books that would only reveal themselves under special circumstances. Technology would then be an integral part of the plot. What a great idea!

  5. Interesting idea – presumably you don’t know the purpose beforehand – I wonder if anyone ever manages to open it without knowing they need to have a neutral expression! I definitely judge a book by its cover – it doesn’t mean I will or won’t read a book necessarily but it does attract me in – or not.

    • And I wonder how hard or easy it is to have said neutral expression. Perhaps more difficult than we think (and it depends on how sensitive the technology is).

    • I know, this is clever and must have been fun to see to fruition as an inventor. I have been reading some good books lately (right now I’m reading Oliver Sacks’s memoir- a good read if you haven’t already read it. Hope you are well too.)

  6. It’s amazing the things that people come up with. I know we all try not to judge books by their covers, but alas, we can’t help it (it must be in our DNA) 😀 BlackAss looks like an interesting book (and I also thought they were binoculars) 😉

    • There’s a fine line between assessing and judging a cover, isn’t there? After all, a cover’s art is meant to engage us and lure us to buy the book to a certain degree so we won’t all be taken in by the same art. But, hopefully, we are self-aware enough that we can look past a cover that doesn’t engage us (sometimes haha!).

  7. A judging book, next they will be sentient like Terminator but in a ‘you’re not reading me type of way’ and not the chasing you down the street type. How terrible not to have the right to be all snobby and wrinkle one’s nose at a book.

    I thought the black shape was a monochrome Mastercard logo but now you’ve said it, I can only see anatomy now lol.

    • A book that chases you down the street, that made me laugh. It would follow you all day, reminding you that you still had three chapters to read!

      • It would be a great excuse to skive off work as the book would disrupt the workplace…it would be horrible if you weren’t enjoying the book though, it’d be there all the time badgering you and ruining the summer days.

  8. Oh my – what will they think of next!! A fascinating take on our approach to reading. And I love the sound of Blackass – definitely adding that to my pile 🙂

    • Blackass is worth reading,engaging and easy to read. Plus, I haven’t read a lot of Nigerian literature so am also happy to add more to my list.

      • Yes it is always good to push out to parts of the world other than our own – this is one of the joys of reading – it makes them so accessible.

  9. This is so rad…and Blackass should win an award for best book title EVER. I have no idea how I approach a book. This could be a funny hidden camera social experiment at a library or bookstore!

  10. I would hate for a book to judge my face. I’m usually tired, and that means my expression is not usually very chipper. 😀 I, too, would have seen the two dark circles as binoculars had I not read the title first. The words direct the perception, in my case.

  11. You always make me think, Letizia. I’ll have to work on my ‘normal’ expression. I seem to scowl, according to others. Wonder what the book cover would think. So good to hear from you!

  12. Funny how covers influence in unexpected ways. The cover of this novel reminded me of the cover of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, so when I saw it I thought it was a sequel. Bummed when I saw that it wasn’t. Happy to know that it’s a good book anyhow.

    • You make a good point though, we do wish for sequels of some of our cherished books, don’t we? Wondering what happened to the characters and such. Thanks for dropping by, Ally.

  13. Hrmph. I am highly skeptical of the idea that starting from total neutrality — lack of enthusiasm, or passion, or whatever emotional investment you like — leads necessarily to the best, most-unbiased judgments. Gets used too often as an “impartial” means of discrediting women, POC, etc.

    YOUR book’s cover, on the other hand? Looks like an absolute delight!

    [Nice to see you again, btw! Your presence has been missed. 🙂 ]

    • You make such an insightful point, Alice. And the project goes a bit against the creator’s motto: “Judgment should never hinder enthusiasm of seeing things for the first time” as showing enthusiasm for this cover would not allow you to open it. But I suppose he did the best he could with the technology available!

      Thanks for dropping by and for your kind words!

  14. Interesting concept! I worry though that I would never be able to read the book that the computerized cover is on because I am always excited when I have a book in my hands! 😉 Nice to see your new post here, dear friend ❤

    • I would have the same problem, Christy, showing my excitement and the book would never open, haha! Lovely to hear from you and hope you have been well xx

  15. This is excellent… we have come so far… I would have never thought this could be possible…
    Love the idea… great post, dear Letizia… sending best wishes for your weekend. Aquileana ☺️💞

  16. Intriguing idea! Admittedly I do judge a book by its cover. Some covers draw me in and some don’t. If I get that “tingling” feeling, I definitely pick up the book. Beautiful Ruins is a novel that comes to mind — I was enthralled by that cover. Are there any covers that intrigued you that made you take a second look?

  17. Now this is interesting! If books start to judge us, what next?! I definitely judge a book by its cover, but I don’t stop there. Even if the cover doesn’t intrigue me, I take into account the title, the inside cover blurb, the back cover blurb, whether I’m familiar with the author, and the first page.

    I always figured covers are there for us to make certain determinations anyway, otherwise all covers would be plain. What I like doesn’t mean anything to someone else, so why not make a judgment? As long as we don’t let it be our only judgment, and we still give the book a chance based on other factors.

  18. Fascinating – and no, I wouldn’t have thought the black shape on the cover was a ‘black ass,’ but that shows how totally clueless I am – it’s a great cover! As an Indie author, I worry about the importance of covers. I prefer covers with no figures or faces on them. I like a setting instead – just like Beautiful Ruins.

  19. I tried to open the link to see if there’s a shred of research evidence to connect facial expressions with judgements of any kind going on in a brain. Sadly the site didn’t open. I also wonder about the premise. How can we know that judging book covers is a bad thing? What system of ethics, for example, would be used to define ‘bad’? If potential book purchasers didn’t form judgements about the contents of books by their covers then designers wouldn’t work so hard to appeal to this tendency in order to incite curiosity to pick something off a shelf for inspection, non?

    • Sorry the link didn’t open, Jeff. I checked and it opens for me so you can just try googling the website if it interests you. As the book cover was made by a creative agency it was made tongue and cheek and not based on any strong scientific evidence. As the inventor says, he wants us to reclaim our enthusiasm and minimize negative judgements. There are certainly flaws in his project but his intention is just to get a conversation started and to have some fun. I think he succeeded!

      • Interesting aims. Seems to me that the only way the project can achieve them is if those who approach it have already suspended their critical faculties. Perhaps more modest claims would have suited better.

  20. Very interesting. Well, I always study the cover before starting to read the book and admire skills of artist. After reading the book, I again study the cover, because I am interested if the cover artist saw the content in a similar way than I saw in my mind.

    If You remember that, I love space stories and looking at back how covers have changed during the quarter of a century, it is amazing. Modern discoveries have transformed covers in this genre of literature.

    • I think the cover is important too. I will not let a bad cover affect my judgement completely but it is part of the book as an art piece. I think the cover of space stories are often so creative, in particular.

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