What's best in book spines?


New Member
Dec 8, 2008
When browsing books at a book store, what spine styles grab your attention or put you off? For myself, I tend to gravitate toward books with simple, bold artwork and plain fonts. Conversely, I'm put off by complex artwork and fancy script. It seems the slower that I have to go to read the book's name, the faster I am to pass it over.
If the book has the traditional style of fantasy artwork on the cover, I usually don't stop to even read the title.

Bad habit!

Now I try to know ahead of time (that is, before going to the bookstore) which book it is that I seek.


That way, I won't be inappropriately biased by the cover or spine style.
Take a bit of the fun out of book-shopping though, Lillyanna!

Personally, as long as I can read the author's name and the title, I don't think it makes a lot of difference...
When I want to have fun shopping, I go browse clothing and housewares stores!


Actually, unless I've received a recommendation (or read about a best-seller) for a book, I don't buy books anymore. We got 100+ books from a friend who reads a book a week... and I haven't looked at any of them so far except for the Pratchett ones.
I also like a simple cover and spine. Of course that doenst really affect me any more since I do almost all of my book ordering online
The last time I was influenced by the cover of a book was the very first Weis and Hickman Dragonlance book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Its spine wasn't really all that different, but the book shop where I picked it up was rather limited in its SFF offerings. Had I known it would lead me to buy 25 other Weis, Hickman and friends offerings from Krynn, I might have thought twice about it (kidding, I enjoyed most of them!).;)

No "spinal" acquisitions since then, though....
Girth an shape really. I sometimes like a long slow read and sometimes I like a short campy read. Once I have decide my mood then I look at the actual cover. If it's nice, simple and plain I am more likely to buy it. It's more mysterious and I can't tell what's inside. It's a draw for me. Overly complex turns me away.
I tested myself by picking a shelf at random from my collection and seeing if their is any similarities/trends.

My paperback shelf have a large proportion of human figures in the spine. Generally bold lettering.Several had wraparound art work from the front cover.

My hardcover shelf has almost all of the titles with wraparound art work or small versions of the cover art. This is unexpected as the titles go back almost 40 years. I also notice that the titles I enjoyed the most, have generally the plainest spines.

Enders Game, Falcon by Emma Bull, Warriors Apprentice and Boarders of Infinity by Lois Bujold all had plain spines on the paperback shelf.

Witches of Karres, The Hound and the Falcon trilogy by Judith Tarr, Vortex Blaster by Doc Smith and Islands in the Net by Sterling all have basic spines.

The hardcovers are all first editions so they weren't worrying about the spines and were relying on the cover art. Very nice cover art too. :)

My personal preference is the wraparound cover art by such artists as Hannes Bok and Michael Whelan.
I must admit, though, that I do like the classic simplicity of the old Penguin Books spines...

I'm not fussed as long as when you bend it back on itself it damn well stays bent. There's nothing worse than having to keep turning a book over and having to put all your weight on the spine to it keep the book open.

Hardbacks are the worse. With those there's little point in messing about. The only cure is to take a scalpel to the cover and rip the spine out altogether.

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