Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tapjacketing #9: Blue Butterflies and Peanut Brittle

 from Cover Art Archives (See #6!) 

It's been more than a month since we last went Tapjacketing, in the style of The New Yorker's Talk of the Town.  So let's get right to it. Check out these interesting web pages about cover art / book design (some specifically about kids books, a few about book design/cover design in general) - just click on the word "Link." (and thanks, once again, to our intrepid Tapjacketing friend, Sarah Blake Johnson, for pointing us in the direction of #3 and #4. )

#1. Link: "...horizontal diversification" (the term used to explain her interest in archaeolgoy, art history, art, design, book design.) Over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, contributor Steven Withrow does a great job interviewing Susan M. Sherman, the art director at Charlesbridge Publishing, who has worked with such artists as Barry Moser, Chris van Allsburg, Jane Dyer, David Macauley and Ed Young (nice roster!)

#2. Link: "With photo manipulation, who can tell for sure these days?"  Jacket Whys takes a look at the blue butterfly books. Vladimir Nabokov would have been in heaven.

Nabokov with Butterfly Net
#3. Link : "You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a book cover. And the best of them become as vital a part of a book as the sentences on the bound pages."Bob Greene takes a quick look at nine jackets  (a few for children) that he feels are vitally connected in our memories to the books they covered. The original cover for Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a surprise - I would have pegged that as a book that came out much later, maybe the 1970's - so it must have felt way ahead of its time. Also surprising: How simple the cover is for Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
#4. Link:  "You can't tell a book by its cover if it doesn't have one." Interesting to think that we might be in the Golden Days of book covers, before they start losing their impact due to different electronic delivery modes for books Think about the way  LP record album art became less important once CD's started taking over the market. Will that be true about book jackets, too? Will  different delivery modes ring the death knoll for book jacket design? Motoko Rich wonders about it in this article from the NY Times.

#5. Link:  "''Sort of like how people used to experience vinyl records,'' he said, with the ''album covers and the music as a unifying whole.''  Am I seeing a theme emerge? Album covers & book covers = doomed? Stephen Heller talks briefly to cover art guru John Gall about designing twelve paperback covers for Haruki Murakami's fiction ("...lots of cropped women and circle motifs.")

#6. Link: Trompe l'oeil book covers over at  100 Scope Notes.

#7. Link: "Oh, joy...."   The Cover Art Archives site has the same effect on me as See's Peanut Brittle. Can't get enough.


  1. John Green had an interesting post a while ago about how book covers will not matter anymore in the near future. He says: "BOOK COVERS WON'T FREAKING MATTER SO MUCH AS A SALES TOOL. Designers will be liberated to design the coolest jackets without so many commercial constraints, because the focus will be on the right audience instead of the broad audience. Word-of-mouth will be king again."
    We'll see...

  2. I admire John Green's sense of liberation from the bottom-line mindset, but I wonder about his assumption that there will be a "right audience" rather than a "broad audience." What about "no audience"? Will jacket art be phased out entirely once books are delivered electronically? Actually, let's be as optimistic as he is - I love a world where word-of-mouth has more clout, and even an eBook (iBook?) will have some kind of cover art, no?