We really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we can’t help ourselves—it’s all we can do! And other book lovers are no different. The #bookface challenge is sweeping social media again, with bookstore employees and customers alike aligning covers to match the view in front of the camera. Or, to put it plainly: you stand behind the book so that you continue the photo on the cover.
It’s so creative and so much fun, our team here at Bored Panda couldn’t wait to share it with you, dear Readers! So we carefully crafted some of the best pics for you literature lovers to kick back with (and hopefully to inspire you to do the same)! This isn’t the first time that the Bookface challenge has surfaced on the net! You’ll find Bored Panda’s previous quirky posts about how bookstore employees like to have fun right over here and here. Give them a glance once you’re done enjoying this list and upvoting your fave pics.
Bored Panda spoke about the #bookface trend with Marianne Chala, the Director of The Willoughby Book Club, the UK’s leading personalized book subscription service. Marianne joked that she spent the first lockdown doing "millions of bookfaces," so she's a real expert on them.
"I think it appeals to people because it can be as simple or as complicated as you like—a quick snap against a bookcase or a really elaborate costume. It also suits the camera-shy as the face is partly or wholly obscured, so there are no excuses for not joining in," Marianne from The Willoughby Book Club told Bored Panda.
According to Marianne, book covers are incredibly important and play a vital role in our buying decisions. "We’re all extremely judgemental about covers here at Willoughby! I’ve also been a bookseller for long enough to see trends in cover design come and go," she said. "At the moment I think the increase in beautifully designed and presented books reflects customers’ buying trends: people are now prepared to spend on books as items to keep and build into the decoration of their home. The pandemic has also reminded us all of the importance of books and reading for comfort and escapism, we’ve all needed it this past year. I’m always glad to see when a title has been well presented, as a good cover can make or break a title."
How much input book authors have on what the covers looks like, however, depends on how much freedom they're given by their publisher. At times, they might have some leeway; otherwise, they're at the mercy of the publisher's marketing department.
Marianne also opened up about what booksellers and book lovers do when they're not working or taking part in the #bookface challenge. "I’ve done ‘spine stories’ sometimes, where you stack the books to make the titles read like a micro-story," she revealed, later adding that literature lovers tend to do what they do best and open up a book when they have a spare moment. (And the mountain of books I have at my desk, propped open and swaying in the spring breeze, agrees with her.)
Tons of bookstores, libraries, and organizations have been taking part in the challenge. And there’s even a #BookfaceFridays hashtag floating about on the web, too. As you’re lining up the book cover with your body, you try to create a seamless whole that’s both realistic and aesthetically pleasing.
So it’s not just books with real-life photos on the covers that can work; stylized covers can, too! However, the latter takes a bit more work and imagination to get just right.
Despite the name of the #bookface challenge, it’s not just your face that you can replace with a book. Any part of your body will do.
And some of the more creative shots show people posing in various different ways, moving away from the classics where people stare directly at the camera. Truly, the sky’s the limit here and we think it’s a wonderful way to get engaged with how visually stunning some books on display can look.
The New York Times suggests that the challenge may have started gaining more and more traction around 2014. The challenge isn’t just fun, however. It’s a great way for bookstores, libraries, and booksellers to remind the public that they exist and to engage their existing and potential customers.
As social media continues to expand into our lives, you can’t afford to not post something on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter because the barrier to entry is low and your competitors will be doing the same thing as well. The #bookface photos are a wonderful way to do that, translating our love for books into a purely visual format, akin to a tiny, easily-digestible work of art for the digital age.
In an earlier interview with Marianne, Bored Panda spoke about the pet peeves that booksellers have. Marianne told us that she and her staff (all book obsessives) have seen “a lot of abominations towards books” in their careers. One of the biggest faux pas that they’ve seen people do is arrange their books with the spine facing inwards. “This is a crime against literature.”
Marianne also told us that cracked spines also scare her and her staff. Especially if customers do so in front of the book lovers’ eyes. What’s more, books bought just for show without any intention of reading them, as well as books with film tie-in covers won’t win you any brownie points with real literature fans, either.
According to Marianne, some of the worst things she’s ever seen done to books included having a beloved book lent to a family member getting mauled by a dog, a burst pipe destroying an entire collection of books, and a large hardback having been sawn in half with a breadknife because it was “too big to read in bed.” The horror!
“From working in bookshops, I have had books returned for a refund that have been dropped in the pool on holiday and are crunchy with sand… or when 50 Shades of Grey was the thing, we’d get copies returned with the spine cracked on the saucy bits.”
Marianne continued: “I have seen sandwiches, burgers and on one memorable day, a whole burrito tucked into the shelves with the books… and a large coffee upended on the Christmas display tables of bestsellers— ugh, it’s giving me hives to have to re-live it,” Marianne revealed the nightmares that some book lovers have to deal with on a regular basis.
Note: this post originally had 107 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.
So, dear Pandas, have you ever taken part in the #bookface challenge? Do you plan to? What book covers draw your attention the most in stores? What’s the worst way you’ve ever seen someone treat a book? Let us know in the comment section below.