Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Books and Their Covers

Last night I was reading Steve Almond's book The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, which I have read before, and really enjoy, in part because he writes very convincingly from a woman's point of view, which is kind of weird, but cool. Anyway, I flipped it over and noticed how much I actually like the cover as well. It uses big, blocky primary colors, pencil drawings, and graffiti to create a collage effect. Also, the paper is really nice (it's a hardcover). Scott is always pushing for nice, heavy weight paper in our publications, and I have to admit that it makes a difference.

I started thinking about other book covers that I've seem recently that have made an impact graphically - here are a few.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

This book is kind of a postmodern distopian tale of office life. It takes place in a struggling ad agency where one by one, the staff is being laid off. Topical! It's also about the relationships that we develop with our co-workers, and how the office, for better or for worse, becomes a kind of home.

I love the yellow forest of Post-it notes, the words that look like they were drawn in Sharpie, and the haphazard placement of the text. It reminds me of a messy desk.

Candyfreak by Steve Almond

I guess this is a Steve-Almond-heavy post. Though I don't think this is genius design or anything, I love that each letter in the title is taken from on iconic candy bar wrapper. Let's play "spot the brand", shall we?

C = Nestle Crunch, A = Starburst, N = Butterfinger, D = Mr. Goodbar, Y = Almond Joy, F = Butterfinger, R = Snickers, E = 5th Avenue, A = Abba Zabba, K = Kit Kat.

I am both proud and ashamed of myself.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

I haven't actually read this David Sedaris book, but I've read many of his others, and I like how this grim image belies the humorous nature of the prose. I also like the broad, tactile nature of the brush strokes (the paint looks thick and three-dimensional) and the subtle placement of the title, as if it's an afterthough.

The Book of Other People Edited by Zadie Smith

The cover art for this collection of stories was done by Charles Burns, a graphic novelist who is the author of a creepy comic called Black Hole, which is unsettling and hard to describe. I like the stark black/white/red color contrast of this cover, as well as how the individual faces seem to be gazing at each other but not making eye contact.

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