The OF Blog: What's more clichéd than talking about the clichés surrounding book covers?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's more clichéd than talking about the clichés surrounding book covers?

Why, it'd be posting about other people posting about still other people's thoughts on something! In this case, you can read this little response post by Mark Charan Newton about the occasional book cover discussions that crop up here and yonder.  Newton makes some good points in regards to how market-driven book covers can be, but I finished his essay thinking that he could have developed things further.

For example, what constitutes a "good" book cover for a bookseller?  Newton notes that it is something that pretty much "sells" its similarities with certain other "known sellers."  But I believe there is more to this than just that.  If I were looking for a steampunk-style novel to read, the cover aesthetics would differ than if I were to be looking for an epic fantasy one.  Placing elements associated with one (sub)genre on a cover for a different style of story doubtless would be a recipe for disaster.  It would be akin to putting Fabio (not Fábio, mind you) on the cover of an Ursula Le Guin novel.  The steams would cross and like Egon said in the original Ghostbusters, that would be very bad.

I personally don't pay too much attention to cover art.  I notice if the artist has rendered images well, but as a consumer, I am persuaded to some extent by the type of art employed.  I like plain but well-bound books over colorful images.  Some of my favorite covers are the ones that Aio did for the American editions of Zoran Živković, such as the one below:

 

I love the simple design and the interplay of black and green.  Not only does it look beautiful, but it hints that the type of stories told within are more "literary" than pulp in nature.  Not that there is anything wrong with either approach, but people likely associate different cover types with different stories.  I know it certainly would be a shock if a Darrell Sweet cover were to "grace" the cover of an Alice Munro story collection.
So what's the point behind all this?  Nothing much.  Just musing, just like others might be complaining, I suppose.  Now excuse me while I reach for the next book...and almost completely ignore the cover.

3 comments:

Liviu said...

cover art is important in physical stores, to make you look at a book you have no idea about; after that who cares...

online you usually see blurbs/title first so the cover is less important, but in stores I looked at quite a few books only because their cover art attracted my attention

sometimes a cool title also attracts my attention, but the cover has more room to do so, so to speak

Anonymous said...

"I know it certainly would be a shock if a Darrell Sweet cover were to "grace" the cover of an Alice Munro story collection."

I'd buy it the day of release if a publisher set this up! Similarly, we need some Ultra Literary Serious Art on the covers of Forgotten Realms.

Don't underestimate the lol collector!

- Zach

S.M.D. said...

It should be noted that Aio's books are also physically superior to run-of-the-mill mass-produced books. By that, I mean that the type of paper used and interior design are top notch. They take the whole book thing very seriously. I have the Zivkovic books (really enjoyed both of them) and another book by them called The Steam Magnate (by Dana Copithorne). All excellent books as products; all excellent books as written materials too!

 
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