Thursday, August 23, 2007

Covers galore!

We all know covers are important. You'd like to think that a book could sell based on the contents, but obviously, that's not the case. I mean, with billions of books in the bookstore, you have to filter somehow. With a wall of new books in front of you, the easiest way to filter is by cover. We all know this.

I used to read the blog of a friend who was a freelance designer for one of the big houses, and then later moved to another house for a permanent position. He used to post up different versions of covers (covers that they nixed, or that he knew they wouldn't like). He complained a lot, because, of course, while the writer's book is their art, his covers were his art in a way. Generic thrillers in a series were a bore to him. They were bad art in his eyes, even if they did the commercial thing of selling. He'd post of several versions of covers for the same book, and the one we all liked best, was usually never the one to be chosen. The marketing people had a clear idea of what sold books to what specific target audience, I guess, and even if the cover was haunting and beautiful, it didn't appeal right - consumers have their own ideas of what books of certain types should look like. A shame though, some of his book covers that never made it were really really good. [He has since moved his blog or taken it down or something. I suspect what he was doing probably wasn't exactly allowed.]

So three random book cover related things:

First, I just have to say that I LOVE the new softcover options with the jacketflaps coupled with the new contemporary cover art by Penguin. Like the new Anna Karenina or my recent buy of The New York Trilogy. The covers are wonderful because theyre so updated, and complete the entire art aesthetic. The edgy pages. The grainy covers. For a person who enjoys the sensory sensation that comes with reading (as I am), these books are wonderful. Hefting around my big copy of Tolstoy with the beautiful clean b&w photograph (and its solitary purple) feels like I'm not reading your average college required reading, but like I'm reading a piece of art. The whole freaking thing is a piece of art. Copies of these versions of books are slightly more expensive, but I'm willing to splurge for it. I think it's clever of the marketing people because it contextualizes older classics for a new generation of readers. In fact, I laugh everytime I pass by the copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover (which I will probably never read, considering my last fiasco with D.H. Lawrence, but still). The comic cover cracks me up. Now I'm not sure that it gives an entirely accurate portrayal of the book, updated or not (but I haven't read it, so who knows), but it's hilarious. These somehow make reading classics more fun. I, for one, am tired of blurry printset on newspaper thin yellowed pages.

Drab... vs. ...Fab!

Comely... vs. ...Comical!

This is nice.... vs. ... but this is so much cooler!

The second thing I wanted to mention was this great blog called The Book Design Review. It reviews covers of books that are coming out, which I love! I would never have thought to (or be able to) delve into book covers so thoroughly, since I am not a cover designer (or a visual artist by any means), but I do enjoy learning about what someone who knows what he's talking about has to say about covers. In any case, good for writers to know, because it's another aspect of the trade. Although if I'm ever lucky enough to get so far that I'm talking what COVERS should we use, I'll let the graphic designers do their job.

Lastly, just in case anyone ever was curious about the cover design process, Novel and Short Story Writer's Market's blog had a good post on this today.

Can anyone tell I don't have much to do at work today?

1 drops:

moonrat said...

AWESOME blog tip!! Covers are SO important and I know our designer feels the rub (he hates, for example, when the legibility of the title interferes with his artistic aesthetic. Robert the Publisher, naturally, feels the opposite way (and I have to back Robert up on this one). It's and ongoing problem.).

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