They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But, you can, and I have, to great effect. The saying is also used as a metaphor. As in, you can’t judge a man by his shoes. Again, you absolutely can, and in this case, you must—the shoes are very telling.

Some, however, take the saying seriously. For those people, finding anything to read can be near impossible. If you’re committed to not judging a book by its cover, what can you judge it by?

What sort of pose is the author doing on the portrait page? Pensively holding a pipe? The book may contain words you have to look up. Smoking a cigarette? The book will contain words that may make you blush. Shrugging their shoulders with a playful expression? The book will contain whimsical word combinations like “holibobs.”

Does the book have THE new book smell? Does it have THAT old book smell?

Who’s the book dedicated to? If it’s a dog, proceed with reckless abandon. If it’s a “long-suffering partner” whom the author can’t believe has stayed with them through the writing process, proceed with caution. You’re telling me the love of your life finds you to be a chore, and yet you expect me to shoulder the burden of your thoughts for 462 pages? And on my holibobs, no less? Lastly, if it’s dedicated to a cat, put the book down. The cat certainly doesn’t care, why should you?

When reading in public, what will the book say about you? You might not judge a book by its cover, but others will.

Take a peek at the Amazon reviews. Does the book tend to arrive late and with slight damage? Did a recipient’s delivery driver neglect to call their dog a “good boy” as they passed him on the porch?

What font have they used? Not the cover font, obviously. Check over any and all internal fonts; I hear bad things about Comic Sans.

Aesthetically speaking, would it pair well with your bookmark? This is not about the cover; it's about the bookmark!

Is it currently only available in hardback form? Do you have the inner strength, fortitude, and resolution at this time to take on a hardback book and all it brings with it?

What does your dog make of it? Show them the book (be sure to obscure the cover). If they wag their tail, it's a go; if they rip it to pieces, it's a no. If they show neither of those specific signs, you will have to be the judge of their judgment. You know what they're thinking because you're their human. I wouldn’t know, as I don’t know your dog. But I would like to.

If this book were a person, would they return their shopping cart? Would they recline their chair during dinner service on a plane? What sort of shoes would they wear?

What do you know about the author? Do they, for example, have a dog?

Finally, and most importantly, is there an audiobook? If so, what’s the visual for it like?