Notes from an Italian hermitage – despatches from BOLOGNA #3
Random musings on recent book cover designs
22nd February 2020
Random musings on recent book cover designs.
Every now and then I like to muse on the book jackets that slide across my desk and I often find myself wondering which book would actually catch my eye in a bookshop. What is that je ne sais quoi “thing” that makes a reader pick up a book?
I guess my interest first started when I did an interview with the cover designer for Tigers in Red Weather by Lisa Klaussman, which came out way back in 2013. You can retrospectively read that article written in 2015 here. It set the bar really quite high for eye catching cover design.
It was the book cover with the bright yellow woman on it that caught the eye of so many then. Which covers have caught my eye in recent months? Well, the one I keep coming back to is The Office of Gardens and Ponds by Didier Decoin, set in Japan in the 12th Century (honestly, it isn’t at all dry, and is very readable). I just love the composition, colour and the flow and I would be certain to investigate it further if I came across it in my local bookshop. You just know without opening the book that is likely to be set in Japan!
In quick succession I then read two books, The Portuguese House (set in Goa) by Pamela D Holloway and Impostor (set in County Mayo) by L J Ross. I quite liked the cover of the former until I noted that it didn’t really give a real inkling of the content, other than that it is set somewhere exotic. It actually has quite a romantic slant which I still don’t pick up particularly from the jacket image. I then noted that it is rather hard to see the author’s name and that isn’t good.
In total contrast – and also a red cover – everything on this book cover of Impostor by L J Ross (set in County Mayo) is absolutely clear and there is just the hint of a knife, indicating what the contents of the book might be about.
In essence a cover is like a short-cut, a visual clue to the content and genre of a book. As readers we want to sift and find the kinds of books we like to read, the cover needs to offer a story before the book is even opened. It needs to grab our attention within a couple of seconds, if not shorter! The image needs to flow and both title and and author’s name must be distinguishable; therefore well thought out fonts are essential. Then there is composition – there are no right or wrongs but it is easy to spot when something just clicks and something is awry.
Two not dissimilar book covers both equally caught my eye. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman, set in London, France, NYC and Rome and Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich (set in Naples) both lured me with their busy colour design and both truly do stand out. But when you look a little more closely, it is just a little hard to actually tie down the details of the author and the title! By this point, the reader in all likelihood might well have moved on….
In her recent novel the author Ann Patchett details her quest for the perfectly pitched novel The Dutch House. Just how much a reader judges a book by its cover? You can read more here. It is a tantalising cover, I think, and one wonders who the woman might be, who is looking directly at the reader. And surprisingly – given the title – there is no house on the cover!
The Home by Sarah Stovell is dark, dark like the contents. The head of a woman is horizontal, lying down, possibly dead, and the notion of death is further brought into focus by the statue of an angel used for the eye. Subtle but all the information for content is in one picture (the cover design is by Kid Ethic who always creates something that is quite eye-catching).
I will be very interested to see what 2020 brings in the way of inventive book jackets.
Which book covers, then, have caught your eye of late and which have not? I would love to hear more from you about your favourite and not-so-favourite covers! Please do leave your comments below and we can enhance this post by adding images that you suggest below!
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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