Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2009-02-13

Friday Fun: Book Covers

One aspect of book production that can get the short shrift is cover design. Everyone's heard the platitude that you can't judge a book by its cover, but if that were true, why would publishers put so much effort into creating their covers? I have a only slightly secret crush on Chip Kidd, who is my favorite book designer (you can see some of his work here) as well as being an entertaining author.

But there's a lot of other imaginative people out there, like Pablo Defendini (who is also very passionate about electronic books) at Tor Books. Pablo doesn't have as much online as Chip, but here's a great example of a print he designed for Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

Now, there are some other things I've been seeing online that also deal with book covers. A little old now, but here's a blog post from Joseph Sullivan's Book Design Review from November of last year, showcasing some of his favorite book cover designs from the year. While I'm partial to the cover for Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! (better known to many people as the movie Soylent Green), the cover for The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is just amazing.

Pursuant to that, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is part of Penguin's (through their UK office) Great Idea series. There are three series, and the link takes you to the first one. Each is twenty books, and they comprise everything from Karl Marx to Seneca to Thomas Hobbes to George Orwell. I think each and every one of these books has great cover design. They are small, hand-sized editions, and if someone wanted to buy all three series for me (a bargain at just under 300 pounds) I would love them forever.

On the more fun side of things, blogger Spacesick recently created a whole bunch of book cover mock ups, taking popular movies and creating 1960s style book covers for them. I don't know if I can pick a favorite from these. Every time I settle on one, the next one catches my eye.

For practical purposes, you can always create displays of books designed by the same person/design team. That would take some research, but could be well worth the results. Alternately, you can pick out similarly themed book design, and put them together under a "Judge This Book by Its Cover" display. For programming items, you could have people design new book covers for their favorite book. Or take a book with bad design and redo it. The possibilities are endless!

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