Student Author(s)

Erika Schlenker

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Julia Randel

Document Type


Event Date



Readers judge books by their covers no matter how many times they are told not to. Though it may seem to go against the age-old saying, publishers wish for consumers to judge books based on cover appearances. However, covers sometimes fail to accurately represent the content and themes of their books and are unsuccessful at appealing to a wide audience. Specifically, critics in recent years are concerned that covers aimed at attracting a particular gender alienate the opposite sex before they’ve even considered the content. This issue of cover design leads people to believe that book covers possess gender as they attract one sex and not the other. When put into the context of gender studies, the issue relates to gender stereotypes and societal perceptions about what topics a particular sex should or should not be interested in. I agree that cover design plays a major role in how consumers regard books. In this paper, I explore how design elements such as titles, blurbs, trends, and color schemes make statements about the audience and content of books. By bringing author and book examples into conversation, I argue that cover design is a book’s strongest communication tool as it influences the way people classify books.


This project was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts & Humanities at Hope College.