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These Books Are Totally Glitchin’

posted October 2, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

This is an interesting idea for print-on-demand book covers and looks cool, too.  Design student Michael Kosmicki created this series of covers as an entry in the 2009 D&AD Student Awards competition.  They’re based on the concept of intentionally producing a visual glitch using “a logarithm that translates the title and section into a distinct graphic pattern.”  (Thanks to the Book Cover Archive for pointing out these beauties!)




The assignment was: “Use typography to create a series cover design for Faber Film’s range of books that reflects Faber and Faber’s long history of typographic excellence.”  They also wanted entrants to design specifically for POD (print on demand) by creating a single template that could be used to generate an infinite number of cover designs.  This is a clever solution to that problem!  Plus: pretty!

Michael’s design wasn’t chosen (here are the winners)—it was probably deemed too conceptual for the assignment.

If you’re intrigued by these images, you might be interested in this new book that’s all about art made from glitches (like the image below): Glitch: Designing Imperfection.



Totally Space Opera Series

posted July 16, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

I was glad to get a chance to see more photos of Orion Books’ “Totally Space Opera” series, designed by Sandra Zahirovic!  They’re over at FaceOut Books, which has an interview with Sandra about her designs. FaceOut is great about taking hi-res photos of well-designed books, and from all angles, not just the front cover (click on the image to go there and see more images).

Space Opera series

Sandra says she has been worried about the supposed trendiness of the “cut paper aesthetic.” That that didn’t even occur to me—they’re well executed and don’t rely on the cut/folded paper as a gimmick. And the stark black-and-white palette, high contrast, and bold font help counteract any preciousness associated with origami.

Kudos to Orion Books for not diluting Sandra’s work in the name of “marketability.” Other publishers (U.S. ones especially! It’s so disappointing when the U.K. versions of books look so much cooler than ours) ought to take note—see how you can get good publicity by giving designers creative freedom?

You can see more pictures of the books at The Book Cover Archive.

Books of a Feather

posted June 24, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design books

Here’s a little selection of beautiful book covers featuring birds.

fulton_nightingales-copy every_bird_on_earth

The Nightingales of Troy (paperback) by Alice Fulton (W.W. Norton, 2009) — Designed by Kelly Blair

To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession (paperback) by Dan Koeppel (Plume, 2006).  According to the Book Cover Archive, the designer is Mike Langman, but I don’t see anything like it on his website, so I think that perhaps someone else designed the book using his wonderful paintings. I could be wrong!

capote2 fleisher-accidental-copy

My Side of the Matter by Truman Capote (Penguin Pocket 70s, 2005). This is my favorite of the bunch. I like the dimness of the photo contrasted with the pink lettering. Also, the composition really works — it’s held together with diagonals as opposed to a grid.

Accidental Species by Kass Fleisher (Chax Press, 2005). I wish I could find a larger picture of this. Is the image a photo of a three-dimensional assemblage?

abramowitz_dear1 chekhov-kiss

Dear Dearly Departed by Harold Abramowitz (Palm Press, 2008). I don’t have any information on the illustrator or designer.

The Kiss by Anton Chekhov (Penguin Pocket 70s, 2005)

Book Covers and the Bloggers Who Love Them

posted April 8, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

Maybe it’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover—but if you want to judge a book’s cover, you’re in good company! There are a number of blogs dedicated to discussing book cover design. One with a lot of fans is Joseph Sullivan’s The Book Design Review, which he’s been publishing since 2005. Sullivan updates frequently, writing brief, entertaining posts about the latest noteworthy book covers. He tries to track down the name of the designer for each cover he mentions, which I think is great, because the designer is often not credited anywhere in the book.

Another good book-design blog is FaceOut Books, the blog of the Oregon firm DesignWorks Group. The DesignWorks folks choose a book cover they admire and ask the designer to talk about the process of creating it. And the designers generously do so—often including images of sketches, source materials, and rejected ideas. FaceOut is updated every Monday, and the entries are usually quite detailed. I love that DesignWorks is putting energy into such a cooperative approach instead of being snarky and competitive.

Here are a few more good sites about book covers: