A Book IS Its Cover


I am not going to tell you at this moment how the two images above – baldness and fire – interlock in my new novel, you’ll just have to wait and see.

But after reading a really smart blog about how publishers must up their game on covers, I really started to ponder things. Why are covers so static? I’ve worked with art directors who loved to place one perfect little thing on the cover, put a frame around it and put it on a shelf. I called these art directors THE TURD BURGLARS. Doesn’t matter how pretty that art is, across the room it still resembled a tiny turd.

Yup, they gotta want to buy the book before they can read it. That’s where covers come in.

I am from the FULL BLEED SCHOOL of art direction, as you can tell by the covers on my site. Find an arresting image – often from the past – and blow it up large. That’s the FULL BLEED style and I love it.

I want cinema in every book I do. I just like it that way, I can’t help it. I never can afford the Frank Capra photos from Magnum Photos and it makes me sad.

Lately, as young graphic designers strut their stuff, lots of book jackets resemble writing on the ASIAN CAVE WALL. While very cool and no doubt pleasing to Plato and his Republic, I can’t figure out what it is telling me about the book. But I like it. Just one more thing to feel ambivalence over, I guess.

This smart blogger suggested covers that create huge emotion and action just out of range of the frame, in this case, the cover. Her example was the teary-eyed face of a girl in The Blair Witch Project. I must admit, I too wanted to know what was happening just out of the frame of that picture.

Book covers must generate a lot more excitement than their current state. Visual artists are needed as badly as tech experts. Because books are, by necessity, becoming more visual because of the internet (weird, right?), and they need to compete with the amazing level of images Americans are now used to and expect.

In this new world, why can’t book covers move? Why can’t an alternative ending, on film, begin as soon as you touch the link at the end of the novel? What would a little Tristan und Isolde do in the background as you read the last chapter? Why aren’t we playing with forms? Pushing more? Pissing more people off?

Oh, okay, I’ll guess I’ll just have to do it. 🙂

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