They say don’t judge a book by its cover . . . but we all do.

The attractive or interesting cover draws us to the tome. We pick it up. Then read the title. If that’s captivating we flip back to the blurb. Now the blurb has to do its work . . .

Here’s a couple of covers from local books published a few years back.


Which would you pick up? Which draws you to it?

Both are literary, competing for the same readership.

The cover of Heroes and other stories by Karim Raslan is sharper, better designed and exhibiting intriguing character illustrations. Lee Kok Liang’s is more muted – well the title is The Mutes in the Sun. I like the mystery it evokes though. I like its simplicity

Here’s a couple more:

Which do you prefer?

I really go for Xeus’s Dark City 2. She has had the benefit of the multi-talented Kenny Mah’s graphic design skills. The woman face emerging from shadows of suspense and fear promises a wonderful read. I’ve got a story in it – “Hawker Man”, my first story after 5 years in the non-fiction wilderness.

Of course, I like my 44 Cemetery Road too. I have to. It’s my book and I also snapped the cover photo. I shot it at the old cemetery in George Town whilst I was scurrying amongst the gravestones looking for Francis Light’s place of rest. What a beautiful frangipani filled afternoon that was!

What my cover lacks though is a human face. The human face is so arresting, capturing out attention. It always does.

No doubt Dark City 2 will work its magic. I hope a few hands will grab the gravestones in 44 Cemetery Road too. There are 21 of them – tales written over 10 years and out this month!

We know the cover is vital to a book’s success. Writers and publisher’s must focus more on this. Our local books, without any form of government funding, must compete commercially with beautifully designed imported books.

Hence front cover becomes vitally important.