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24 Jul

This is another cover example using a bright colour plus black and white. It’s also an example of a cover that plays with type. In this case the type is reinforcing the meaning of what it is saying, doing a kind of freefall into (or out of?) the surrounding buildings. It’s also accentuating the movement of the image around it. It’s also playing with the typical conventions of a cover: the type runs vertically rather than horizontally, and downwards rather than upwards, and the picture itself is upside down.

There’s not really anything else to add here that is new but I thought this was a good example of a lot of the aspects of cover design working really well together.

The Sherlock Holmes Books

14 Jul

See the whole series on Coralie Bickford-Smith’s website.

Yes, another Penguin collection. I just love them all. I’m not going to bother espousing the virtues of making books collector’s items again (I think we’ve heard enough of that from me for now) but I am going to use these books as an example of returning to the retro in book design. There’s a real trend to bring back retro or old-fashioned covers and I think that this is, in a way, a response to the increasing presence of ebooks on the book market: the one thing that paper books have over ebooks is the nostalgia aspect (‘Oh but a screen will never look, smell, feel like a real book!’), so designing books to elicit all those nostalgic sentiments is a great way of emphasising their point of difference from their more techy counterparts. It focuses on the perceived advantages of pbooks over ebooks!

Plus I’m a total sucker for these covers. They’ve got all that creepy, tacky feel of old-fashioned horror. And, they use the whole bright colour plus black and white principle I’ve been harping on about. So they tick all my boxes: collection, cover, retro. Yes!

Jon Gray (a.k.a gray318) Covers

10 Jul
See more gray318 covers on The Book Cover Archive.

I’ve already talked a lot about covers in this scrapbook, I know, but I just have to include the covers from designer gray318. I love all of them! Especially the ones done for the Jonathan Safran Foer books.

As I’ve already mentioned in some other posts, I really like covers that play with text so that it becomes an image. And I think there’s a fine balance to doing so: you’ve got to make it look good and ‘speak’ to the person looking at it without sacrificing the legibility of the text. I think the gray318 covers are a great example of doing just that. They look great, they’d stand out on a book shelf. They’ve also become incredibly recognisable: you see one of these covers, and you know it’s one of Safran Foer’s books.

The other thing I think the gray318 covers in general are a good example of is colour use – generally, they use just one bright colour plus black and white, or two or three colours together. I think getting the colour balance right in cover design is really important, and there’s not necessarily a rule to it but the gray318 covers are good examples of what I think works.

No One Belongs Here More Than You

20 Jun

Visit the No One Belongs Here More Than You website.

I’ve included the cover to this book because it exhibits a number of qualities I’ve already mentioned as being effective when it comes to cover design, namely the use of one bright colour plus black and white and a very simple aesthetic. I think it works! And I love the cover with the alternating colour in the font because I think it links all the different coloured covers together.

I’ve included the white cover with the girl face-down on a bed as a comparison to highlight the effect a cover has on how a book is perceived – whether people like to admit it or not, they totally judge books by their covers. The reaction to the cover with the girl on it is going to be different to the reaction to one of the other covers, and as a result, the kind of readers it might attract will be different (just as I talked about with the different My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead covers).

I’ve also started thinking about the importance of cover design when it comes to purchasing ebooks and pbooks online: the cover is the thumbnail we see on a website, so little details (like review quotes) become redundant and big, clear font and bright colours become really important. I don’t know how this consideration will affect cover design (or if it even will) but I think it’s really interesting to note how the whole ‘needing to catch someone’s eye from afar’ aspect of a cover is just as pronounced on a webpage as it is on a bookshelf. I think a cover like the yellow one here works well on both levels: it’s well designed, so it looks good; but it’s also not overcomplicated, so it’s easy for your eye to snag on. Hmmmm.

The Elements of Typographic Style

30 May
Visit the unaffiliated website The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web.
Consider other interpretations of Bringhurst’s ‘bible’, such as the following by Benjamin K Koh and Kaitlyn Diduck.

Bringhurst’s book is such a bible when it comes to typography that it would be silly not to include it here, or to look at how it is designed itself. I also think it’s worth looking around at how others have interpreted The Elements of Typographic Style in their own work, placing it in different formats (like the web) and playing around with the conventions of typography like the two from designers I have included here. Looking at different interpretations encourages you to think about the rules, and to see how designers are breaking or playing with them.

But, to the details. I think the overall aesthetic of this book is very clean and simple. It definitely plays around with margins, using wider spaces on the edge of pages for extra information and justifying text along the inside closer than might usually be done.

I like the way the red font on the title page is a carry-through from the cover. As I’ve already mentioned for other entries, I really think that using one strong colour (like red) plus black and white can be really effective with little effort, and I think this is a great example. The ‘of’ in italics and slightly smaller font size (I think!) is a really nice touch too.

I like the fact that the dedication is right-justified, in italics and has large enough space between each line to make it legible and attractive on the page. The lines are broken in keeping with the content of the text, as well as how it looks which I think is well done.

It’s interesting that the imprint is done in two columns – I haven’t seen this before and, to be honest, I’m not really sure it’s necessary. I don’t think you need to do anything out of the ordinary with an imprint page as it’s only a place readers will look if they are after specific information and so they’ll be looking for it in a format and layout they’re familiar with. Kind of a case of if it’s not broken …

The chapter headings are made clear by the line rule at the top of the page and the chapter number in the outside margin. The different heading styles are pretty simple to follow and are generally only one or two variations (small caps, italics, font size, etc) away from the body text style. One thing I really like is the use of the space in the margins for extra information and for what would otherwise have been footers or headers.

The index is fairly straightfoward and user-friendly – like the imprint, I don’t think you really need to do anything besides make sure your information is clearly laid-out and accessible which it is here. Again, using the outside margins to indicate where in the index you are is a great idea (kind of like a dictionary).

The appendix exhibits all the same design aspects as the other pages: all text and headings based on the body style with minimal variations where necessary to indicate different information.