Judge it by the cover. Of course you will.
Covers are some kind of board or another. Typically chip board: gray dense cardboard. I am using MDF and plywood, and will try plexiglass, mirror, wood, veneer and whatever comes my way.
Typically, boards are covered with cloth, leather, or some cloth-plastic-y combo. The entire thing can be covered in the same material, you can have spine-and-corner, spine and edge, or hidden corners.
Way back when the durable materials were expensive, only the most exposed parts got leather: hence spine and corners. The rest of the cover could then be anything cheaper; such as paper, cloth, or cutoffs. I have made probably thousands of spine and corner leather bound books, and let me tell ya – they’re not that cool.
I’ve come to like the spine and edge much much better. That’s the ones with a spine, and a matching strip at the front edge. It takes care of wear and tear as the corners are protected, and it allows for artistic freedom ‘cos there is a sizeable part of the cover free to use.
If i get into printed covers, i will do hidden corners – which are basically tiny tiny cloth corners that are as invisible as possible, but still will protect the tip of the corner.
Covers don’t have to be bookbinder’s materials of course. You could do fur, pelts, fish skins, feathers, embroidery, curtains, wallpaper… anything vaguely bendable. Or not. Metal, oak, circuit boards, slate, glass…
The only important thing is that the cover and the inside creates a whole. With the endpapers as guides. Wether the content is blank, images, or literature; they should sing from the same hymn sheet. Or if they don’t – it should be deliberate juxtaposition. Like all design.
I use laser cutters to engrave draw and cut covers. So here i found a beautiful paper in a shop, so that will dictate the rest of the design. Sometimes it is the other way around.
And i like wells… I might turn out to be a minimalist, and go for all-cloth-covers with wells only. Hmm…
Then there are text – i have discovered that the horrid world of scrapbooking and twee shait have done the world one service: heat transfer vinyl. So now there is no stopping what can be done – we have a vinyl cutter here. To see the complexity of foils, filets, and tonnes of loose type become unnecessary is a massive relief.