Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Un-Importance of Book Cover Designs

John Williams' New York Times cover story How a Book Gets to the Perfect Cover: Here’s how designers get a concept from good to must-pick-up explains how the cover for Glen David Gold’s I Will Be Complete evolved. The memoir: 

"[...] is nearly 500 pages, and recounts his 20s, his college years and his event-filled youth after his mother moved to New York and left him, at 12, temporarily alone in her San Francisco apartment. The length of the book, and the amount of ground it covers, made the prospect of designing a cover for it “a little intimidating,” said Tyler Comrie, a senior designer at Knopf who was given the task.

“There’s a part in the book where Glen stumbles on a puberty chart, when he was 14 or so,” Comrie said. “This presented a perfect opportunity: Three different stages of his life, all tied together with this thing he finds in the book and causes a lot of self-reflection [...]


Figure 1: Three of Tyler Comrie's Drafts for I Will Be Complete

Tyler Comrie developed over three drafts (Figure: 1) for I Will Be Complete, but in the end, a work of abstract by Andrew Nilsen, a friend of the author, was chosen for the cover (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Andrew Nilsen Abstract and the Final Cover

Ultimately, the book's title and summary are going to help the reader make the ultimate decision to buy (and possible read) the book. An author, like Tim Ferris, can have a book cover design contest, but no matter how attractive the cover, (most) readers aren't going to read a book solely based on the book cover design.

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