Are all these articles I’m sharing about covers of books, rather than the books themselves, making me look a little shallow? So it goes.
How Penguin’s Modern Classics dared us to judge a book by its cover – The Guardian “From the beginning, built into the DNA of Penguin, has been this idea that the books need to be beautifully designed,” [says Henry Eliot, author of The Penguin Modern Classics Book]. “If anything has characterised the Penguin design ethos, it’s a kind of elegant simplicity – there’s something deceptively simple about a Penguin cover. It takes a huge amount of work to put them together.” […]
More unsettling is the work of Hungarian-born French cartoonist André Francois. Eliot singles out his cover of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, “where each eye of the face is made up of a mouth with another set of eyes. It’s just such a scary, striking image. It reminds me of Escher or one of Borges’s short stories – there’s something queasy and vertiginous about it.”
After looking at collections of books all with the same cover, here’s news of a single book with a collection of covers.
Dave Eggers’ latest novel has 32 book covers, with even more on the way – PRINT Magazine Never one to shy away from pushing boundaries, Eggers teamed up with art director Sunra Thompson for the project, who discovered that the dust jacket printer they were using could run several cover designs on one sheet of paper at once, providing the means to print dozens of different versions at the same time. Thompson decided to exploit this printing feature, enlisting a boatload of artists to design a completely new version of The Every cover, thanks to connections made by Noah Lang from the San Francisco gallery Electric Works.
It’s safe to say that Dave Egger is not a fan of Amazon.
The novel follows a former forest ranger and tech skeptic, Delaney Wells, as she tries to take down a dangerous monopoly from the inside: a company called The Every, formed when the world’s most powerful e-commerce site merged with the biggest social media company/search engine.
“One of the themes of the book is the power of monopolies to dictate our choices, so it seemed a good opportunity to push back a bit against the monopoly, Amazon, that currently rules the book world,” he said. “So we started looking into how feasible it would be to make the hardcover available only through independent bookstores. Turns out it is very, very hard.”
Behold, the book blob – PRINT Magazine This design trend, well into its third or fourth year in the major publishing houses, has attracted plenty of nicknames and attendant discourse online—culture critic Jeva Lange calls it “blobs of suggestive colors,” while writer Alana Pockros calls it the “unicorn frappuccino cover,” and New Yorker writer Kyle Chayka once referred to it on Twitter as “the Zombie Formalism of book covers.”
As the article goes on to say, spotting such trends in book cover design is far from breaking news.
That was from 2019, this next article is from 2015.
Why do so many of this year’s book covers have the same design style? – Slate But lately, another cover design trend has been popping up on this summer’s crop of beach reads: the flat woman. Inspired by the “flat design” that’s become standard on the Web, these covers take on a minimalist style characterized by bright colors, simple layouts, and lots of white space. Several different designers and publishers have used this approach on hardcovers and paperbacks alike, especially those aiming for the upmarket-but-still-commercial-fiction-for-ladies sweet spot.
And this one’s from 2008.
Chick lit cover girls, without heads – Gawker On one hand, we can understand obscuring the faces—it’s less specific and makes the female protagonist easier to project oneself onto. (It’s probably been focus-grouped to death.) On the other hand—they look weird when put all together in a gallery, don’t they?
I came across that last one back in February, still not got around to it. I’m in good company, at least.
Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books – Ness Labs For Umberto Eco, a private library is a research tool. The goal of an antilibrary is not to collect books you have read so you can proudly display them on your shelf; instead, it is to curate a highly personal collection of resources around themes you are curious about. Instead of a celebration of everything you know, an antilibrary is an ode to everything you want to explore.
But that doesn’t help me pick what to get with my voucher, does it?
Help us pick the best book cover of 2020 – Electric Literature This hasn’t been an easy year for sustained, careful reading. But you know what doesn’t take any attention at all? Judging a book by its cover! That’s why we’re doing our first ever “best book cover of the year” tournament—and we want you to weigh in.
These were their finalists. Which one do you think won? I think they made a good choice.
I feel old. Stephen King’s It celebrated its 34th publication anniversary earlier this month. To mark the occasion, Dan Sheehan from Literary Hub has gathered together a whole bookcase of horrors. Or not.
10 covers for Stephen King’s It, ranked from least to most terrifying – Literary Hub Dutch paperback edition. My personal favorite. The cool 80s glam rock lightning bolt in the background. The Saturday morning cartoon font. The stupid kid’s stupid face. The fact that the balloon is too prominent, the wrong color, and actually looks kind of friendly. The words “de stank van HET” lined up with the kid’s mouth as if he is whispering in Dutch (objectively the most ridiculous-sounding language) to the friendly balloon. It’s all great. Alas, it is not very frightening.
Remember those cricked necks we used to get, wandering up and down the books shelves in Waterstones, Borders and the rest, head at an awkward angle to read all the spines? Book buying looks different now, with our stiff necks due to staring down at our screens.
Welcome to the bold and blocky Instagram era of book covers
None of these titles is available yet, but anywhere you find them online will likely direct you to preorder on Amazon. In fact, their covers are designed to ensure that you will. At a time when half of all book purchases in the U.S. are made on Amazon — and many of those on mobile — the first job of a book cover, after gesturing at the content inside, is to look great in miniature. That means that where fine details once thrived, splashy prints have taken over, grounding text that’s sturdy enough to be deciphered on screens ranging from medium to miniscule.
Social media has a part to play now, too, in our book-buying habits.
“Instagram is a major tool now in ginning up excitement that we used to see in print magazines,” says Emma Straub, Riverhead-published author and owner of the Brooklyn bookstore Books Are Magic.
She’s referring, of course, to the latte-laden still lifes that influencers post to brag about receiving an advance copy of a book, or the artful arrangements they use to signify literate lifestyles arranged in bold colors.
Another fine 2018 retrospective, another rabbit hole to fall into.
The 75 best book covers of 2018
But it is December, and therefore I am inclined to ask: which book covers were the best? As I did last year and the year before that, I asked the experts: book designers. This year, I asked 27 designers to share their favorite book covers of the year, with a bit about why—and they came back with a whopping 75 different covers of note.
Fahrenheit 451 – Elizabeth Perez Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about a dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn any house that contains them. The story is about suppressing ideas, and about how television destroys interest in reading literature. I wanted to spread the book-burning message to the book itself. The book’s spine is screen-printed with a matchbook striking paper surface, so the book itself can be burned.