Archive for January, 2010

POC on Book Covers

Posted in controversy, people of color on January 21, 2010 by Jacket Whys

I am really struggling with the last four in my 10 Best Book Covers of 2009 list. Can you tell?
Meantime I’m off reading other peoples cover posts. And the plot thickens… Bookshelves of doom has found another one.
AND Bloomsbury has temporarily stopped selling Magic Under Glass while they fix it up with a new cover.
Now that we are all sensitized to this, I wonder what else will crop up.

Oh, no. Not again!

Posted in book covers, controversy, people of color on January 17, 2010 by Jacket Whys

So I guess there’s another Bloomsbury “coverfail” or “racefail” or whatever kind of fail you want to call it.

If you, like me a few minutes ago, haven’t caught wind of Chapter 2 get introduced here:
Really Bloomsbury? I’m Done. The Publishing World Needs to Take Note at Reading in Color.

Unlike some of the people who have blogged about the fail, I do not like this cover – it’s a run-of-the-mill, assembly line cover just like many, many other covers. It seems some marketing departments figure they’ve discovered the formula for selling lots of books. Boy, I like to think it’s not true.
Some have asked “where is the outrage” on this issue. I thought there was plenty of outrage with the first blog outing of a “racefail” cover. I guess not enough. I’m hoping this second run does the trick.

I, for one, will be looking to see/highlight people of color on more book covers. And real people, not just the beautiful ones.

UPDATE: The author responds. I have a great deal of sympathy for all of the authors who put their heart and soul into creating something – and then have no say in the packaging. It doesn’t seem right to make this author pay for a marketing mistake.

Best Covers of 2009 – Part 2

Posted in best book jackets, printing special effects on January 12, 2010 by Jacket Whys

About a year ago, I attended a function at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. There was an “art book librarian” there, who showed us some of the kinds of books she collects for the University. I had never heard of “art books” – meaning books that are art, not books about art.
In my first “Best of 2009” post, I talked about how e-book covers can never be quite the same as hardcopy books because of special printer effects. I got to thinking about the difference between “art books” and regular books with great design. It will be a sad thing for me, I think, if the book goes completely E. The art books I saw were amazing! But you had to be really careful if you wanted to touch them. They were expensive, so you probably wouldn’t own them. And their purpose was pretty specifically visual.
There’s something very satisfying about the combined experience of something graphically appealing that can also deliver something beyond the visual. I’m hoping books don’t become extinct. They’re so much fun to look at…
With that, I present you with another set of three, books with visual benefit beyond what the text delivers.

The special printing effects on Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (Margaret McElderry- jacket design by Debra Sfetsios and jacket illustration by Cliff Nielsen) are subtle, but stunning. Metallic inks are used to great effect on the title – an icy blue-silver color – and perhaps mixed in with the other inks on the rest of the cover and cover flaps. The result is a look, surely intended, like the beautiful frost effects you find on your windows every so often here in the northeast.
While the cover is mostly monochromatic, the girl’s red hair and pink/green highlights on her face add a pleasing warm glow. A pure visual treat.
As on some of the other choices I’ve made this year, the design doesn’t end at the cover. Take a look at the page that faces the title page. The frost effect is repeated again, even without the addition of colored inks, by an almost imperceptable printing of a frosty, swirly design on that page. Beautiful.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I’m not a huge fan of the face cover. The Crimson Cap by Ellen Howard (Holiday House- jacket photograph by Marc Tauss, no designer named) is an exception. This face has soul. Again a mostly monochromatic cover, but the whites of those green eyes – they mesmerize. Why the tattoos? Who is this?
It seems as if most of the historical fiction – this takes place in 1684 – that is published now has to masquerade as something else. While this falls roughly in line with that trend, I don’t think this one is anachronistic. I’m thinking the ribbed cap was possible in the 17th century? Any historians out there?
The title treatment gives a genre hint, the face is mysterious, the cropping is good. Why doesn’t the publisher credit the designer?

I’m seeing a theme here… Monochromatic books seem to be working for me this year.  The Rule of Claw by John Brindley (Carolrhoda-photograph of the eye by David Maitland, of the trees, Jake Wyman, both from Getty Images, no designer named). The clarity of this eye, peeking through a tear in this swampy, forest setting is just too intriguing to pass up. A lot of books use eyes to attract. This one does a particularly good job – probably because of the scaly green skin that surrounds the eye.
I like the text treatment too. The very simple thin white all-cap font that glows a bit works well. And while there’s no special effect on the cover, I was delighted by the scaly endpapers, and another white on black title page (like on Monstrumologist in my first Best Books 2009 post). The dark green endpapers have a scale pattern pressed into the paper. Fun to look at, and a great tactile quality too.
This is the first American edition, but take a look at the British hardcover (2007) and British paperback (2008). I’m liking the USA editions this year much better.

Ice: A modern-day retelling of “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon” in which eighteen-year-old Cassie learns that her grandmother’s fairy tale is true when a Polar Bear King comes to claim her for his bride and she must decide whether to go with him and save her long-lost mother, or continue helping her father with his research. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Crimson Cap: In 1684, wearing his father’s faded cap, eleven-year-old Pierre Talon joins explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier on an ill-fated expedition to seek the Mississippi River, but after the expedition falls apart Pierre, deathly ill, is taken in by Hasinai Indians. Includes historical facts. Age 10+. Reviews 1.
Rule of Claw: Ash and her friends live in a future where they are the only human teenagers left, but when Ash is kidnapped and becomes a pawn in a power struggle among the formidable Raptors who captured her, she begins to reconsider her own humanity. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.


Posted in best book jackets on January 7, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Still working on the top ten… but here’s something to take a look at in the meantime. Not sure I would agree with the choices – but it’s a pretty big order. Just trying to cover all the YA books published in one year is a daunting task. I’m not sure how many covers you’d have to look at to find the 50 Most Captivating Covers of All Time!