Three Twenty One

Judge That Book Cover

I was recently telling a quick anecdote about how, as a bookseller, I used to recommend books to customers based on their covers. Now, I know we were all taught not to do that thing where we judge yada yada yada… but hear me out.

I’m a slow reader and I am not ashamed of it. I read for the enjoyment of words and style and writing. Unfortunately, that made me a not-too-well-read bookseller. Some of my co-workers were (and still are, I’m sure) ferocious readers and I respected them mightily. I had a shortlist from which to recommend (Michael Perry, anyone?) so what I came up with was a mental stockpile of books of which I kind of knew the writing styles, plots, characters, type of fans, or of similar authors. I took note of their covers and grouped them with other books of the same type. I would recommend those to customers and wouldn’t you know it? Those recommendations worked! Now, customers didn’t often come back to tell me that their recommendation worked, but there were a few that did and I guess that is as good a cross-section of positive reactions that I need to come to this conclusion. I still remember a customer who came in looking for a good mystery writer and while I never read a single one of Lee Child’s novels, I recommended his work to her based on whom she had read before and she came back to rave that I nailed it. She was in love. I felt pretty good.

This is a good time to mention I never recommended books just to sell a book; I always sold with integrity, as did my lovely co-workers. If I didn’t have a recommendation at the time, I would have asked them for suggestions, which I did all the time.

So book covers have helped me out a lot. And they are quite awesomely designed a lot. Then why is it so hard to find the name of the designer who created it? If you read my last post, you may have noticed I had trouble giving credit to an image I posted. It was quite frustrating, as bloggers know attribution is a major issue on the internet; why is this respect so lacking towards book cover designers? Enlighten me, if you have any information. I truly want to know.

In the meantime, check out this awesome site: The Book Cover Archive (hat tip to a former co-worker who posted the link on Facebook). They post pics of awesome designs and even feature designers. Here are some of my faves:

(Penguin always has great ones.)

All images from The Book Cover Archive, copyright of their respective publishers.

6 comments on “Judge That Book Cover

  1. Jessica
    July 4, 2013

    I have always thought that it would be pretty awesome to be a book cover designer…I too have wondered why they don’t really get any recognition unless they are/were some kind of already famous designer or illustrationist.


    • Shirley
      July 5, 2013

      So true! And then they plaster that designer’s name on everything if they’re famous.


  2. isabel
    August 27, 2013

    The Book Cover Archive is a fantastic site! Thanks for sharing that. Do you think the book cover designer should be listed on the cover somewhere? That would be great, wouldn’t it? I bet if there is no physical book to look at, it would be hard to find the designer’s name. If the book has illustrations, the illustrator is usually listed on the cover (who is usually the cover designer, too, I think? although that doesn’t seem to be the given it once was)… so why not list the designer? I would imagine the cover designer could work their name into the design in an interesting way 😉


    • Shirley
      September 1, 2013

      That’s a good point, about the illustrator is usually listed and if there is one, they do the cover as well. For those books who do not have illustrators, it seems so simple to list their names inside, along with the other copyright/publishing information.


  3. isabel
    September 1, 2013

    Gee, I am more unawares than I thought about this… I thought the book designer was usually listed with the copyright/publishing info. After reading your comment, I looked at some hardcover books and none had the book designer listed there, as you pointed out! The designer was listed on the inside back flap of the dust jacket. Hmmm… that is better than nothing, but the copyright/pub info seem a much fairer, more deserving place.


    • Shirley
      September 3, 2013

      Gosh, I didn’t even know they were listed on the inside back flap! You’re right, better than nothing, but still not great. Hmm…


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This entry was posted on September 4, 2012 by in Art, Reading.

Stuff I said before

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