“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 www.publishingdesigner.com.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on April 24, 2016.