Covers – 1926-1947

13 January 2016

From The New York Public Library Digital Collections:

Despite the fact that dust jackets often include useful information about a book and its author, including biographical notes and often a portrait, it has long been Research Libraries practice to remove the jackets from new books during processing for their permanent place in the stacks. However, from 1926 to 1947, anonymous librarians selected and saved interesting jackets from books of all sorts. Arranged roughly by date published/acquired, these paper covers eventually filled the 22 large scrapbooks presented here. This digital collection offers, first, a view of each jacket’s front, spine, and inside flap; jacket backs and flaps may be viewed by clicking the “View Verso” button on the “image details” pages.

The jackets in the collection are from books published in the United States and Europe during two turbulent decades.

Link to the rest at The New York Public Library
















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How to Know Your Book’s Cover Needs a Redesign

16 December 2015

From BookBub:

Potential readers need to be intrigued by a book’s cover to click through and check it out. Our testing has shown that a cover alone can account for a 30% difference in clicks on a BookBub Featured Deal, and other sources have reported similar results. So if your cover design isn’t up to snuff, your book sales will suffer.

But how can you know which of the covers in your backlist need to be redesigned? And how will you know if a new version of the cover will perform better?

Step #1: Assess Your Current Cover

First, assess your existing cover design to ensure it meets basic quality standards. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does the cover include trends and tropes that perform well in your genre?
  • Is the typeface professional? Outdated fonts like Comic Sans should be avoided.
  • Is the title visible and legible when viewing a thumbnail of the cover?
  • If a blurb is included, is the text legible or does it make the cover look cluttered?
  • Does the cover look professionally designed or amateurish?

. . . .

Step #2: Look for Feedback from the Marketplace

Here are a few signs your cover needs a redesign based on data, trends, and feedback from the marketplace.

1. Sales have slowed significantly (or never picked up)

Sales (or lack thereof) will be one of the biggest barometers for the effectiveness of a cover design. It can be difficult to know if a book’s low sales are entirely due to a poor cover design, since there are so many factors at play. But if book sales have dipped after the new release buzz has died down, or if sales never took off to begin with, the cover may not be appealing enough to capture people’s attention on its own.

A book’s cover is the first thing potential readers see when browsing an Amazon search results page, skimming their Facebook feed, or reading their daily BookBub email. If the cover is not catching readers’ attention, they won’t click through to read the book’s description no matter how targeted or well-planned your advertising campaigns are.

. . . .

2. The cover deviates significantly from successful books in your genre

Like everything else in publishing, cover design is incredibly subjective, and best practices differ by genre. Elements like the image, typeface, featured characters, and colors all impact the emotional reaction potential readers might have, and the right packaging depends on genre readers’ preferences.

To know if a book’s design deviates from what’s working in your your genre, study the kinds of covers trending for similar books. Here are some tips on how to know what’s trending:

  • Review the books on each retailer’s top lists for your sub-genre. For example, on Amazon you can see which books are most popular in your specific sub-genre.
  • Review the covers of bestselling books. Browse the recent New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, and take a close look at the books in your genre.
  • Browse the titles BookBub features in your genre to see what’s working well in your niche.

If your book cover is drastically different from books in your genre that are selling well and popular with readers, you might want to consider a redesign.

Link to the rest at BookBub

The Best Book Covers of 2015

13 December 2015

From The New York Times:

When considering the book as a whole, I prefer that the interiors contain answers and the covers ask questions. To the extent that my favorite reading experiences empower me to confront uncomfortable truths and honest answers about people, societies and the greater universe, the covers that lure me into the pages often do so by posing questions that I don’t want to ignore.

Books and their covers are confronting their own awkward questions of relevance and value in the escalating competition for attention against screens the size of Jumbotrons (or, conversely, wristwatches). To see publishers answer this concern with the craft, sophistication and pictorial wit that go into an increasing number of book covers each year reinforces the certainty that one of our oldest technologies remains one of our most perfect. Below are 12 covers from 2015 that made me stop, stare and ask aloud to no one in particular what the cover means, only to turn to the first page and then the following and then the one after that and onward.

. . . .


“The Complete Stories” by Clarice Lispector


“Imperium” by Christian Kracht


Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Researchers Observe Effects of Art on the Brain

8 December 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

When it comes to art, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but some scientists now are looking for it in bursts of brain waves.

Seeking a biological basis for our response to art, researchers from the University of Houston recorded the electrical brain activity from 431 gallery visitors last year as they explored an exhibit of works by conceptual artist Dario Robleto at the Menil Collection, near downtown Houston. In the low-voltage sizzle of so much neural buzz, the scientists are trying to find how our brains mix sensory impressions of color, texture and shape with memory, meaning, and emotion into an aesthetic judgment of artworks that, at their best, can be both universal and intensely personal.

“This is about emotion, about brain patterns, about individuality,” said university computer engineer Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, who is conducting the research funded by the National Science Foundation. “We don’t know the neural basis for art. The hope is that there will be a common element.”

. . . .

His brain wave experiments, conducted at three Houston museums over the past year or so, are part of a growing scientific exploration of the human preoccupation with art, with potential implications for worldlier endeavors. Experts say our aesthetic judgments go well beyond paintings and sculpture to influence whom we find attractive, which designs and products we prefer and how we respond to abstract communications such as music or mathematics.

“It is one critical aspect of how people make choices,” said Anjan Chatterjee, a University of Pennsylvania neurologist and author of “The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art,” who studies how brain damage has affected working artists. “It is mysterious as to why it is such a big part of our lives.”

. . . .

As an art critic, the brain is quick to judge. Shown an artwork for the first time, be it a landscape painting, a portrait or an abstract rendering of almost any style, people usually make a snap judgment of its aesthetic appeal. Brain-wave recordings suggest that the neural calculation takes 200 to 330 milliseconds, about as long as a photo flash.

“You experience the appeal of art, and you know right away whether you like it or not,” said Dr. Contreras-Vidal.

Gazing at Van Gogh’s dynamic swirling brush strokes evokes a sense of movement that activates portions of the brain’s visual motor cortex, according to brain scanning experiments conducted in 2012 at Boston College. In a similar way, a portrait activates the part of the fusiform gyrus area in the brain that is responsive to faces; the prettier the face in the portrait, the stronger the neural response. A landscape painting usually activates a portion of the parahippocampal gryus associated with places, according to a 2007 brain imaging study at the University of Southern California and New York University.

Art can stir emotions at the level of synapses. The “delicate sadness” of a mask used in traditional Japanese Noh theater activates the right amygdala, a small, almond-shaped brain structure associated with fear, sadness and other negative emotions, researchers at Kyoto University in Japan recently discovered. The pleasure at viewing a beautiful object appears to trigger the brain’s reward center.

. . . .

The most powerfully engaging works of art appeared to trigger brain regions in the frontal cortex that are involved in introspective thought, as well as nearby regions usually directed at more outward matters. The two areas usually don’t activate simultaneously. “That is a very rare state,” Dr. Vessel said. “It resonates in the shape of your mind.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

PG thinks there may be implications for cover design and advertising in this research.

7 Ways to Jump Start Your Book Cover Design

30 November 2015

From Bookworks:

It’s never too early to think about your book cover design. Even if you’ve got writer’s block, at least you’ll feel like you’re getting some work done. And you are! Here are eight ways to jump start your book cover design process, including resources for artwork and photography. When it’s time to hire a cover designer, you’ll be able to judge from their portfolio if they’re right for you, and you’ll also be ready for an educated and productive conversation with them

1. Centralize and Organize

First, make a folder for saving ideas about your cover on your computer. Or, better yet, use a cloud-based repository like Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or DropBox. Invite your writing group or friends to add their ideas, too. You’ll eventually share this folder with your designer.

. . . .

3. Start Pinning with Pinterest

Pinterest is a great tool for collecting images such as, art, graphics, layout and typography ideas. You can keep your board private or make it a group board, sharing it with friends and fans. (Yep, this is a great social media strategy!) Because Pinterest is frequented by arty design types, there are also lots of boards focused on best book covers. You may even find your cover designer here.

. . . .

6. Discover DeviantArt

Do you have an idea for a sketch, illustration, or photography for your cover, but need someone to implement it? I often point authors to DeviantArt, a gathering place for artists, designers, and photographers of all kinds. Sort through the chaff by employing the search box to find elements you want. (Eyes, trees, road, concert, lake, romance…). Remember, these are artists and not professional cover designers, so before you buy anything or commission an artist, consult a pro.

Link to the rest at Bookworks

Rick Riordan cheers end of book covers that ‘whitewash’ his black hero

23 November 2015

From The Guardian:

The bestselling American author Rick Riordan has thanked his Russian publisher for no longer “whitewashing” its jacket illustration of his character Carter, an African American boy who has been depicted as white on the covers of various foreign language editions of Riordan’s young adult series.

Riordan’s Kane Chronicles cover the adventures of siblings Carter and Sadie Kane, who are descended from the magicians of Ancient Egypt. Carter’s skin is “dark brown”, like his Egyptologist father, he tells readers in the first pages of The Red Pyramid. His sister Sadie’s is much lighter, as she takes after their mother, who was white. “Carter, you’re getting older. You’re an African American man. People will judge you more harshly, and so you must always look impeccable,” his father tells him.

. . . .

Despite this, Riordan’s foreign publishers in countries including Russia, Italy and the Netherlands have featured cover images of Carter as a white boy. “Pretty art but I’m not amused how they whitewash Carter,” wrote Riordan of the Italian jacket last year.

This July, he provided a link to the Dutch edition of The Serpent’s Shadow, saying that “the whitewashing of Carter Kane continues … Ugh. Like almost all authors, I have no control over covers and the publishers do not ask for my input,” wrote Riordan at the time. “I don’t even see the covers until they are published. But I have made my displeasure known. (It’s not just the Dutch, btw.) I’m sorry: ‘People in our country will only buy books with white people on the cover’ is not a valid excuse.”

. . . .

Nancy Gallt, Riordan’s US literary agent, said that while his foreign contract requires translations to be “faithful and accurate”, the agency and its authors “have virtually no creative control over the book covers – even in the US, much less the 40 or so other countries where Rick’s books are published”.

“With the exception of the US and UK, we don’t even see the covers until they are published, and even with these Rick only has input, not control. Many foreign editions use either the US or the UK cover, but an equal number have original designs which we do not see until the sample editions come in,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

The new Fabio? Inside the too-hawt-to-handle world of a romance novel model

14 November 2015

From The Los Angeles Times:

Cade Patterson grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. From afar, he has always carried a torch for Kara Knight, a fiery redheaded homecoming queen whose rich rancher daddy would never approve of Cade.

But now they’re all grown up. She’s a teacher; he’s a lawman. They haven’t seen each other in almost 10 years. And that’s about to change.

Did I mention they are from Texas? That there are dark family secrets that must be overcome before their love can bloom?

Or that Cade is not just hot, but hawt?

Cade is not a real person; he is the protagonist of a yet-to-be-published romance novella called “Blind Sided.”

He will be brought to life by a chiseled model named Jason Aaron Baca, who, at the moment, is standing under lights in one of California’s countless dream factories — a small photo studio — wearing jeans, boots and nothing else but a smoldering look on his chiseled face.

The author of “Blind Sided” is the prolific, bestselling romance novelist Eileen Nauman, who publishes romances under the pseudonym Lindsay McKenna. The story will be part of a multi-author, western-themed collection with the tag line: “12 cowboy lawmen who are so hot it’s criminal.”

Nauman has chosen Baca to represent her hero because she believes his face and body sell books.

“Jason,” said Nauman, “is probably one of the most wanted and desired models, and the reason is this: Most male models cannot emote, which means if you want them to look sad or sexy or thoughtful, their face never changes. But this guy has a range that is spectacular.”

. . . .

“My readers want to look into the hero’s eyes,” said Nauman, who has sold more than 20 million books in 33 countries. Sometimes Baca’s eyes are his natural dark brown. Sometimes they are Photoshopped into a piercing blue.

“We try to fold, spindle and mutilate the covers into what readers desire,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Times and thanks to Toni for the tip.

Why Do So Many of This Year’s Book Covers Have the Same Design Style?

29 August 2015

From Slate:


Among the many challenges book cover designers face is trying to represent a book’s premise or main character without getting so specific that readers are left with little to imagine.

. . . .

But lately, another cover design trend has been popping up on this summer’s crop of beach reads: the flat woman. Inspired by the “flat design” that’s become standard on the Web, these covers take on a minimalist style characterized by bright colors, simple layouts, and lots of white space. Several different designers and publishers have used this approach on hardcovers and paperbacks alike, especially those aiming for the upmarket-but-still-commercial-fiction-for-ladies sweet spot.

. . . .

Keith Hayes, who designed the Bernadette cover for publisher Little, Brown, told me via email that he didn’t have any intention of using the flat design style or starting a trend when he conceptualized this cover; he was just working “out of the inability to actually draw,” he said.

“Finding an appropriate enough photograph and placing some type on it just didn’t seem special enough,” he said. “It needed a lighthearted cover that would appeal to both women and men and also feel original.” Hayes says he wanted to do an illustrative approach but didn’t have specialty training in that area. “I like to try to solve my design problems on my own. I thought I could do this in a somewhat simplistic way using basic shapes,” he says.


Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Book Cover Twins

17 July 2015

Book Cover Twins
Courtesy of:
Thanks to Steve for the tip.

UPDATE: For more duplicate covers see Reading the Past

14 Classic Novels Rewritten With Clickbait Titles

14 June 2015

From Buzzfeed:
Link to the rest at Buzzfeed and thanks to Tina for the tip.

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