Sunday, 08 May 2011 14:03
Call me picky, but here's how I see these book covers. The darkest two of these are poetry books: wonderful poetry books. One is self-published and one is from a chapbook press. The dark covers do hint at the type of poetry within, and there is nothing wrong with dark covers, but the titles and author names are also dark, and in one case the title and author name is in script typeface, and undersized, and barely visible. CivilWarLand is a great book of short stories, but its cover is too busy. With its photographic image, multiple typeface colors (red, yellow, white), the orange oval, and the black sidebar with reverse (white) type, the hardest kind of type to read, this cover is a lot of work for the reader's eyes. You get tired even before you open the book. The publisher, a big commercial publisher, figured this out, because later printings have a different cover. A university press commissioned this folksy painting for this book of really fine short stories, on the right. The painting included the title and author's name. That's a baby in a violin case at the bottom, but it looks like The Scream to me. I would have a hard time buying a book with such an amateurish cover although the book is a prizewinner (see the golden sticker) and truly a gem. The middle book is self-published (I've removed the author name) and its red-hot cover and stark, type-only simplicity is supposed to entice me to open the book. It says it's a novel. It'd be nice if it said what kind of novel; the red and yellow, although they tried, were not enough to convey to me that it was a serial-murderer mystery. (That red isn't "blood red"; it's Soviet Union flag red and yellow.) The cover's oddness may have caught my eye but I would never take the book from the shelf; obviously a self-published effort by someone who doesn't know that covers have to inform readers, just a little, as well as attract their attention.
Published in Sanity Bubble 2011