Friday, April 5, 2013

Judging a book by its cover

Isn't it grand when you are in a room full of book people and the topic gets heated when it turns to books? Isn't it just the best when someone disagrees with you about the content/title/author/book jacket? I have the privilege to do this on a daily basis. Working in books grants me the opportunity to do this every time someone shows me a new book.
Instant judgement.

Do I like it?
Will I read it?

Would it look good on my shelf?

Would I actually buy it?

Obviously I also have to make the more mundane (but somehow more profound to my continued employment) decisions like:
Will it sell?

Will it appeal to the market?

Will it be picked up on the basis of the cover alone?


Because face it, we all judge a book by its cover. We walk into a bookstore/library/friend's house and pick up a book. Based solely on the level of attraction to the jacket image (provided you do not know the author/ series) you will turn the jacket over and read the blurb, or in many cases, not.

But book jacket design is such a subjective art. It will never appeal to the whole market, not in a million years, but it is up to the designer to make it appeal to as many people as possible, while still staying true to the spirit of the book.

The tried-and-tested method tends to work well, like with crime fiction - where gloomy photorealistic covers seem to work best – or chiclit with its brightly drawn, somewhat preppy looking covers. But sticking to your guns isn't always the best approach, as Bloomsbury found out to their detriment.

Joey HiFi covers

Sometimes a new jacket comes out that just blow you away. Joey HiFi did an amazing job on the cover for Zoo City, and subsequently did the rejacketing for Moxyland, the new jacket for The Shining Girls as well as some other artwork for local and international publishers. 

Many other great books were killed by its cover. Elaine Proctor's Rhumba is a prime example of this.


At the end of the day, Zoe Hinis said it best:

"The reason people judge books by their covers is that they only have so much time to read and so much money to spend. It is quite sensible when you think about it. And a book’s jacket has to help it stand out amongst thousands of others"

Find Lood on the blog for the rest of the week in BLOG TAKE OVER
About Lood
I’m just another average book freak who happens to be able to think for himself. My views might or might not be controversial, they might or might not be insightful, but they are mine. I do not suggest you remotely agree with them, but I implore you to employ rationality when engaging in arguments. I value logic above intelligence, respect above passion. I urge you to converse with me, because through discourse we will all leave these encounters richer.
About the blog take over: I have with all my power and control-freak nature, given my blog up to Lood for an entire week - may he talk books and keep it clean.


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