Mama said “do not subject to stereotypes”, “not everything is what it looks like” and, of course, “don’t judge book by its covers”. Mama said a lot of stuff. But, there is at least one moment in every day when you forget to listen what mama said and take a close look at those f..in book covers. What you see in there it depends on your way of thinking, mood, personal aspirations, etc… Yes, this article is about book cover design! Haven’t you read the title?
Through history books have been trustworthy witnesses of civilizations lives and their covers followed progress of those civilizations as much as their content did. When you think about old book you can picture hard, dark colored leather cover and it brings up that sweet dusty notion of mystery that should be resolved while reading. At least that was the case before propeller of technical progress started its crazy acceleration. Back in the days people would spend their lonely hours soaking in that smell of old paper, reading everything that would come to their hands.
Today, with all that things modern life requires, there is not much time for reading. Most of us chose books of specific genre and stick with it. And every genre has it specific book cover design. Keeping up with this kind of logic it’s inevitable notion that we do judge books by its covers.
We recognize dramas and romances by photos or illustrations of hugging and kissing couples, clouds, hearts, flowers or sensual representation of human body.
You know that thrillers and horrors will almost always have images of weapon, shadows, dark houses, and blood spots.
Fantasies will have some creature or object from past, future or imagination… And every one of those will flash in front of your eyes, luring you to your favorites.
Appreciate a good book cover!
To illustrate this article we used book covers designed by Chip Kidd, and, as you can see, his work is diverise. If you look at the covers he made for books of David Rakoff nad John Updike, I belive you will find them in good taste. They are not over the top and you can assume what are those books about. Ones that are especialy beautiful are these three:
When you think about “The English patient” first face you will imagine will be Ralph Fiennes, but he isn’t on this cover. Here you see shadow walking through the desert and one detail from painting to break gloomy atmosphere. It is a great composition. Cover for “Easy poems” of Marie Ponsot with its powerful image of red tulip in breaking vase and calming blue background gives us that all-at-once feeling that only art can give. And for Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk Kidd choose cup of Turkish tea – small but significant part of Turkish culture that Pamuk represents in great way.
Books are like people – sometimes you get what you see, sometimes less, other times more. If you are not sure in your judgment, open it randomly and read few sentences. It will not take more than a minute (in that minute we can read, approximately, one page) and it will tell you all that you need to know. In the end, covers are just covers. And maybe, just maybe, we should listen to our mamas from time to time.
Visual content courtesy of Chip Kidd