They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but when i’m in a bookshop with no particular book in mind, I quite often find myself drifting around selecting my next read based on the art work, the font and other such aesthetics. I used to eat up the McSweeney’s journals just because they looked so gorgeous and quite often never even got round to reading the stories. Unless I have previous experience of the author I’d rarely consider a book with a terrible cover.
I don’t like fussy book covers. I like simple images, beautiful fonts, striking colour schemes. I like to see a front cover which reflects the style and subject matter of the words contained inside. I’d go a long way to avoid a photo cover. I’m no graphic designer but I do have very strong opinions when it comes to book covers.
This week Liberties Press put me in touch with Karen Vaughan, the graphic designer who’s going to be producing the artwork for Malcolm Orange Disappears. Over the last few days I’ve spent a lot of time flicking through images of my favourite book covers from my bookcase and, looking at a small sample of them here, have realised I like font-heavy designs, with bold yet unfussy colour schemes and tiny clues to the plot contained within. Karen has done an amazing job on the first draft of Malcolm’s cover and it’s definitely made the whole thing feel both real and, frighteningly imminent. This is a book I would buy in Waterstones, based solely on its cover. I wish I could give you all a preview here but the design is top secret for now.
The process has got me thinking however. Do book covers influence your reading choices? Should a magic realist novel have a certain look about it and if so what exactly would let my future readers know this was the genre they were about to purchase? What’s the best book cover in your library? All thoughts gratefully appreciated as I feedback to the graphic designer with my suggestions.