Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ray's Reviews: Book Cover Designs by Matthew Goodman

        “Book Cover Designs” by Matthew Goodman (Schiffer, $34.99) is a thick, heavy, oversize paperback that’s full of gorgeous photographs.

        These striking images of colorful artwork used for hardback and paperback book covers are fascinating and intriguing from the perspective of a reader, book collector or graphic designer.

        If you feel like you really want to judge a book by its cover – this is a great place to start. Many of the vivid, carefully crafted designs do exactly what they are supposed to do – get your attention, whether now or on the bookshelf when you’re browsing in a book store.

        This well-researched volume includes artwork on a wide variety of subjects including fiction and non-fiction, although there’s relatively little science fiction artwork.

        There are more than 500 images from over 50 different designers, arranged in groupings alphabetically – by the designer’s first names. This can be a little frustrating to the average reader, who may be looking for artwork by a particular designer but might not remember their first name.

        Each grouping includes an image of the designer and a very brief description of their techniques or methodology.

        These one-page introductions to the designer are printed in very small type using quite light ink, making it difficult to read – in stark contrast to the bright colorful graphic cover designs.  Book and photo credits are in even smaller, lighter type!

        Here’s a partial description of David High’s designer’s approach, which is very similar to many others: “…My process is pretty much the same for every book. Read as much of the manuscript as is available and initially do what I think is best for the book, using the ideas that come while reading. Go over notes from client/editor/author and second-guess everything. Do a “gazillion” alternatives. Rest. Look at everything fresh and try to edit down. Procrastinate. Panic. Do some frantic-last minute- down-to-the-wire solutions…”

        This is a book full of memorable and sometimes disturbing, knockout graphics, offering a highly creative view of contemporary book design.

        There are many bright images of books that you’re likely to have never seen – by unfamiliar authors. There are also cover designs for writers like Albert Camus or Jack Kerouac – designed to appeal to a new generation of readers.

        The author’s website is

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on April 24, 2016.

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