Welcome to Jacket Knack! I'm so excited about this new venture - hope it proves to be thought-provoking and fun for you as readers, too! I'll be posting my thoughts and comments on jacket design for kids' books every other week, alternating with Carol. We're both writers of kids books - both of us have picture books out - so it's fair to say we both come at jacket design from an author's perspective. But there are other places we stand as well. Before going back to graduate school, I was a buyer for a large independent bookstore with a well-respected children's department. I spent my days looking through publisher's catalogs and talking with sales reps - often, the only visual clues for judging a book came from those catalogs. I loved the time I got back out on the floor with potential readers of those books, and I watched an awful lot of people stand in front of tables and shelves, looking for that one book they couldn't resist. It became a game to see if I could predict which customer would pick up which book. I tried to match readers to covers. I saw kids and adults alike consider, sometimes subconsciously, the typography, the colors, the graphic design, the trim size of a book, and either pass it by or pick it up. Once readers pick books up, the process gets even more interesting - there's a special physical and emotional dynamic between a book and a reader, and that's what I want to explore here at Jacket Knack. What happens between a book and a reader, in those first moments when the reader is doing what he shouldn't ever do (supposedly): judging the book by its cover.
And from Carol:
I'm no expert on children's book covers. I think of myself as a curious fan. I mean, I know what I like (embossed letters! glitter!), and what I don't (contemporary-looking characters on historical novels), so I plan to voice my opinions, for what they're worth -- but mostly I'm here to learn. My interest in children's book covers stems from what I imagine goes on behind the scenes at the publishing house: Images chosen or discarded, cropped, manipulated, juxtaposed; typefaces tried on for size; all in an effort to capture the feel of a book. They're giving printed words the right visual personality and appeal. How do bookmakers know when they've been successful? Well, sales, of course, but do they wonder if the book might have done better with a different cover? Do they regret their choices? And why those particular new cover choices for paperback editions and foreign editions? Sure it's about marketing, but it seems to be more than that. Jacket design is an art form that's enigmatic to me. That's what I want to uncover about covers. Looking forward to it!