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Cool New Poetry Book Covers

posted June 10, 2010

Posted by Anne Healey in book design poetry

What is it with poetry book covers? They’re so often boring or ugly. I think a major reason for the ugly ones is simply that small presses can’t afford to hire a proper designer. And there’s an understandable concern about overinterpreting the poetry itself. Also, there’s a general idea that the cover must be staid in order to convey the seriousness of the book’s contents. But so many poetry books seem to be saying glumly, “Oh, don’t mind me, I’m poetry. You’re probably not going to like me unless you already know me. I don’t blame you. I’m kind of boring.”

Come on, poetry books! Don’t be so modest. You’re too beautiful to sit around in that frumpy old bathrobe. Here are a few looks you could try on!

book cover for Shot by Christine Hume Book cover for The Crow's Vow by Susan Briscoe

Fancy Beasts, by Alex Lemon book cover Book cover for Wait: Poems by C.K. Williams

Book cover for The Plot Genie by Gillian Conoley Book cover for Lucifer at the Starlite: Poems by Kim Addonizio

Christine Hume, Shot; Counterpath Press, 2009

Susan Briscoe, The Crow’s Vow; Signal, 2010

Alex Lemon, Fancy Beasts; Milkweed Editions, 2010; Cover and interior design by Christian Fuenfhausen

C.K. Williams, Wait; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010

Gillian Conoley, The Plot Genie; Omnidawn Publishing, 2009

Kim Addonizio, Lucifer at the Starlite; W.W. Norton & Company, 2009

Crimes of the Art

posted April 26, 2010

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

Norwegian artist Gardar Eide Einarsson’s new show at Team Gallery in New York consists of a series of large black-and-white paintings based on appropriated images. One source image, it turns out, is a book design by Peter Mendelsund, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Mendelsund himself. He wrote about it on his blog Jacket Mechanical, pointing out that the image is not, as the gallery’s statement says, in the public domain. 

Mendelsund’s not alone. Last year Einarsson showed a set of similar paintings that appropriate Camus book covers designed by Helen Yentus

Einarsson 2009

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Margaret Atwood U.K. Book Covers

posted April 6, 2010

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

Finally, a book cover that does justice to the work of Margaret Atwood! Beautiful. Too bad for us Americans that it’s the U.K. edition (here’s the U.S. hardcover: There’s also a lovely special slipcase edition (right).

atwood_flood_uk     atwood_flood_uk2


The U.K. paperback that comes out later this year is also striking. It’s one of a series of Atwood cover designs by Nathan Burton (the Caustic Cover Critic has a post about the designs on his blog).

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Why NOT Judge a Book by Its Cover?

posted November 17, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books publishing

From an early age we are warned not to judge a book by its cover, but now that I am an adult, I question this advice. Why can’t we judge a book by the cover? Isn’t that why new books are displayed face out, to capture one’s attention? Why are book designers and illustrators paid good money to create attractive covers if they don’t matter? Now there are certain books I will buy no matter what the cover is, but with undiscovered authors when I am wandering aimlessly through a bookstore? Something needs to catch my eye, and an ugly or boring cover isn’t going to do it.

So let’s conduct a little experiment here. Following are four covers for the same book, Chinua Achebe’s seminal Things Fall Apart.


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Illustrator Laura Carlin for the Folio Society

posted October 27, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design world literature

I’m gazing longingly at the Folio Society website, particularly this lovely clothbound edition of Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier, illustrated by Laura Carlin.


fournier carlin


Here’s an interior illustration: 



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