I always judge books by the covers and I usually choose books purely from their covers. In the same way I often reject books because of their covers. I notice this more and more when I am flicking through BookBub or Amazon picks. If the cover does not speak to me then I assume, rightly or wrongly, that the book won’t either.
A good book cover can make me stop and look. I have never read anything by Elena Ferrante but was aware of her existence before the recent hubbub about her real name thanks to the book covers I saw in Daunt Books one day.
What does a book cover do? It represents the contents of the book to the casual observer. I know that if I see a vaguely Scandinavian name and a lot of snow that I am probably looking at a Scandi thriller. Even better if the setting looks remote and uninhabited. I also know that if I see a childish type building and bright colours that the book is probably in the old chic-lit category. A cozy looking room with an armchair and a ball of wool? A cozy mystery.
I am not a huge fan of cluttered images and multiple fonts. I like minimalist designs with a good use of colour. Blood red is off putting but pillar box red is comforting. Innovative use of overlays, scratched texture and sepia prints are welcoming even if the story inside is not. Think Winter in Madrid. I used to like the penguin covers of the 1970s with their avant garde designs which may or may not have been related to the contents.
I love the cover of this version of Nancy Huston’s novel Dolce Agonia because it is so simple.
I love Art Deco and any book which nods to this movement always gets my attention. This cover uses both typography and simplistic design to attract attention:
I am also fond of using textures and layering in Photoshop so this cover appealed to me:
As did this one I found on Google:
I rather like the redaction technique and have seen it done successfully on a few occasions.
A discussion of book covers would not be complete without a mention of the Patti Smith memoir M Train, which readers will know I have been reading these past few months. I think I was attracted to the book by the lovely image of Ms Smith sitting in her favourite café, with a cup of coffee and a Polaroid Land Camera looking meditative. The nice sepia treatment truly brought out the subject and made the book instantly appealing and recognisable.
There is an interesting discussion on book covers to be found on the Canva website.