What Makes a Great Book Cover?


One ought not judge a book by its cover, but one may judge book covers in general: Some just work, whether it’s because there’s a beautiful illustration, an interesting use of type, or a stark simplicity (think Catcher In The Rye).

In a piece for the Atlantic Wire, Jen Doll investigates what goes into re-working covers of classic books, speaking with Penguin VP Executive Creative Director Paul Buckley and Coralie Bickford-Smith, who designs absolutely stunning cloth-bound collectible hardcovers:

When I asked if it was imperative to read the books before approaching new designs for them, Buckley responded, “Of course we read the books – does a chef taste his food before putting the dish on the menu? Content is everything.” Bickford-Smith agreed: “If I don’t understand and immerse myself in the content how can I communicate the insides on the outside in a way that will speak to an audience?”

I like some book covers because they are objectively beautiful — Love In The Time Of Cholera, Disquiet. Others I have a nostalgic attactment to: Eloise in Paris, with fireworks, the Eiffel Tower and cheeky pink undies; Blubber, with the whispering every fifth-grader fears and loathes; From the Mixed-Up Files, with kids in the museum in their pajamas. Thrill of a lifetime.

Of course, a book cover is a sales tool, intended to get you to pick up the book, so some of the best covers are the attention-grabbing. Take the new Fear Of Flying cover, for instance:

Doll’s entire piece is worth a look, but for now: What are some of your favorite covers? Let’s make a gallery!

[Atlantic Wire]

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