We all know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover; however, that’s just what designer Matthew Goodman wants us to do with his 2016 book called “Book Cover Designs.” The book is published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. out of Pennsylvania, where Goodman works as a designer.
This over-sized, softcover book features over 500 book cover images and write-ups by more than 50 designers whose job it is to entice a reader in a bookstore to pick up that book out of so many to choose from, or that online shopper to click on the displayed cover to find out more about what is inside.
Perhaps the famous adage has made the role of the book cover designer one that has gone under-recognized by most readers. After all, they know that an eye-catching cover might attract their attention, but it is the book they should end up talking about, right?
The best part of this book, aside from the covers which range the gamut in style and color, are “The Designer’s Approach” sections of text ahead of each display of a designer’s work. Here, the designers speak for themselves about their creative process, inspirations, challenges, and how they would describe their own styles and what they create.
From these sections, the reader learns that designers work in different ways — some read the manuscript if it is available when they must begin their work; others do not read it, or read the “creative brief” given to them about it, instead. Some designers start with the title and author written on a piece of paper; others have made detailed notes of key words throughout a manuscript in their attempts to generate ideas for images, fonts, layouts, design, etc.
A Foreword by Nicole Caputo titled “The Future of the Cover Designer in the Digital Age,” leads off the book. Caputo argues that e-books have made the role of the cover designer even more important for publishers. “In short,” she writes, “it seems that the easy availability and low cost of e-books has encouraged us to re-imagine the print book as a unique, irresistible, even artisanal object.”
The foreword is followed by a Preface by Goodman where he describes the genesis of the book and his process. The designer section makes up the bulk of the book, with covers displayed with good printing detail against a solid white background, giving their work a feel of being displayed in a gallery.
Each designer has a portrait photo, text about his/her career, the “Designer’s Approach” section written by that designer, and samples of his/her work. At the back of the book is a listing of “Designer Contact Information” (primarily designer websites). Front and back folded flaps help keep one’s place to return again to this coffee-table-style book.
This 8.5″ x 11″ volume has 224 pages and is available from the publisher’s website for $34.99 or on Amazon.com at a discounted price. For the reader interested in the fate of the paper book or in design, art, promotion and marketing, or in perhaps contemplating his/her own personal response to covers, “Book Cover Designs” will provide an insightful read into this aspect of book making as well as an uninhibited walk through a gallery of covers, between covers.