Judging A Book By Its Cover — Buy Me!

Soft drinks on shelves in a Woolworths superma...
Image via Wikipedia

I’m finishing my second non-fiction book this month, probably next week. I’ve seen its cover, sent to me in a few iterations. Unless you’re A Very Big Name, you get — in your contract — cover consultation, but not cover approval. Covers matter!

Yet it’s authors who get all the attention, more rarely the designers whose interpretation of what it is we’re really saying, is meant to get you, our desired audience, to reach eagerly for our work. It’s a bitter irony that a book that can take an author many years to complete gets mere seconds to try to grab readers away from all those other books, or TV or radio or a movie or…

Like cans of soft drink on a grocery store shelf, every book cover is competing for buyers’ brief and distracted attention.

If you — like me — care about design, you might enjoy this post, from Elle magazine’s new blog LitLife interview with illustrator Michael Kirkham.

When you’re browsing the bookstore shelves, what kinds of covers do you gravitate to? I circle the illustrated ones. Being in a bookshop is just like being in an art gallery. There are so many different approaches to art, so many different ideas. I like quite blocky, maybe a bit retro book designs, but a good design could look like anything. And I won’t turn my nose at a good bit of photography.

What illustrators inspire you? I think that pictures can tell stories, so artists like David Hockney are a big inspiration. His etchings of Brothers Grimm fairytales really got me interested in illustration, because I saw that pictures could tell stories in a completely different way than words. That’s why book jackets have pictures on them—they tell a story and then the words inside continue telling that story.

3 thoughts on “Judging A Book By Its Cover — Buy Me!

  1. Interesting. I find that book covers with too much art, those that are too busy, turn me off. They’re too distracting, and they make me wonder what the author is trying to compensate for with a flashy cover. Also, I get very disappointed when I buy a book with a flashy cover, only to find that the scene on the cover is nowhere in the book! I’ve purchased books before that had a white cover and black, blocky text because I found it refreshingly plain and honest. It said to me, “The good stuff is inside, and I don’t have to pretend.”

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    But here’s the problem — the writer may not even get asked what we might like or gets over-ruled. (I was given my title and sub-title!) I absolutely LOVE the cover for Blown Away…red and black with two super-subtle aspects to it, a lacy bit of design that reads like a Western saloon and a black-bordered front cover (which is sometimes used for obituaries.)

    I like some aspects of the cover for my new book, and some less so. We’ll see what happens.

    It’s like getting dressed for your wedding, a day when all eyes are on you and you want/need to look your very best — but they choose what you’ll show up in.

  3. Pingback: Judging A Book By Its Cover — Buy Me!My Random News | My Random News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s