“Publishers Weekly” Unfolds Cover Design

As someone interested in both books and art, I’ve always been easily seduced by a striking cover design, a beautifully executed book jacket. (I know, I know: never judge a book by its cover. I assure you–no judgment is involved! Though a tinge of envy might be….)

Book covers at their very best are eye-catching, but not randomly so. More than just a pretty face, covers that are a cut above the rest manage to capture their books’ essence, communicating at a glance a unique something that makes you choose that story from among all the others on the shelf.

I’ve long been curious about the how behind this aesthetic component of the book-making process. How exactly does one distill thousands of words, hundreds of pages, and a multitude of themes, plot points, and characters into a single image? How does a designer create a cover that fulfills a trilogy of pretty critical functions: producing aesthetic impact; succinctly communicating story; and generating sales via customer attraction?

So imagine my delight when I stumbled onto “Cover Story,” Publishers Weekly‘s new column focusing on “the art and science of book-jacket design, and the evolution from early concept to finished product.” The first installment of this column features the design process behind the cover for Lionel Shriver’s near-future novel, The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047. Despite my lack of familiarity with the novel, I found this inside peek into the bookish art world an intriguing one. So if you’re a curious cat like me, look no further: here you can scratch that inquisitive itch.

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