Archive for the fonts Category

New to Me

Posted in book covers, book designers, color, fonts, stock photos, trends on March 18, 2010 by Jacket Whys

An author/publisher asking for cover design input from you before making a final decision… hmmm. I wonder if we’ll begin to see more of this as more and more bloggers and reviewers talk about the importance of cover design. Here’s the arc cover of The Duff by Kody Keplinger (Little, Brown 2010). The comments here are pretty interesting if you read through them all (obviously people like getting a chance to comment ahead of publication).

Duff: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper starts sleeping with Wesley Rush, a notorious womanizer who disgusts her, in order to distract her from her personal problems, and to her surprise, the two of them find they have a lot in common and are able to help each other find more productive ways to deal with their difficulties. Age 12+.

Simplicity Rules!

Posted in book covers, fonts, worst book jackets on March 10, 2010 by Jacket Whys

I ran across both of these new books online today and the contrast was outstanding enough to make me stop and think. Simplicity vs. intense busy-ness. Which works better?
Admittedly, my bias is the old cliche “less is more.” Sharon M. Draper‘s book, Out of My Mind (Atheneum 2010) is a peaceful blue with a nice complementary orange for a focus point. The simple image says a lot, though. Fish out of water… breaking free of things that bind you, etc. It usually irritates me when the author’s name is bigger than the title – but it works here. Draper’s name is subtle enough as not to distract. The white title attracts the eye if only because it’s white against so much blue. I like how “a novel” delineates the goldfish’s path out of the bowl. The bubbles add visual interest.
A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard (Holiday House April 2010, Allen & Unwin 2009) – I don’t know why the Yiddish exclamation “OY VEY!” comes to mind – but OMG! Too much, too much, too much. And if that’s not enough, the strange font, outlined in white and squeezed into the layout, further complicates a cover that is already way too busy with text and mixed images. Maybe all this mishmash will draw kids? It’s only the plot summary here that might pull me in.

Out of My Mind: Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time. Ages 10+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Reading Group Guide.
Small Free Kiss in the Dark: Skip, an eleven-year-old runaway, becomes friends with Billy, a homeless man, and together they flee a war-torn Australian city with six-year-old Max and camp out at a seaside amusement park, where they are joined by Tia, a fifteen-year-old ballerina, and her baby.  Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Teacher’s Guide. See the Australian cover.

Deliciously Creepy!

Posted in best book jackets, book covers, book designers, book spines, fonts, illustration on December 20, 2009 by Jacket Whys

2009 - Smith - Tentacles - spineI came across this cover online recently. It was an instant attention grabber and I ordered it ASAP. It went directly to my shortlist for best 10 of the year. The designer/ illustrator, Phil Falco has been added to my watch list. Turns out I was already a fan – just hadn’t connected the dots yet.
When I received the book, I wished the art was a little bit better, or maybe just reproduced better, or maybe just a little less muddy? The cover representation I’ve seen on a few websites is much brighter and bluer – and better – than it is on the actual book. And that’s why I’m featuring it here, but not on my top ten list (close!).
I think this will grab readers’ attention. I like the lighting. It’s mostly dark, but backlit part of the tentacle is a nice glowy red. I love the tentacle rising up from the bottom of the page and the sense of the water disturbance. The juxtaposition of title text with the composition is super – and it’s carried through the design of the inside of the book. I’m not sure if I risk serious copyright infringement by showing it here, so I won’t. But the title page is uniquely designed. The page is printed black, with the same tentacle art coming in from the left side. The suction cups and the title are the only thing that are light in color.
One of the pages preceding the first chapter has an illustration of a giant squid. And the contents page is really different, divided vertically by “Parts.” I know this description isn’t describing the design clearly enough – so find this book and take a look!
Had to show the spine as well. I think this one will show up on the shelf.

Tentacles by Roland Smith (Scholastic 2009): After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, Marty and Grace go to live with their scientist uncle and accompany him on, what soon becomes, an increasingly dangerous expedition to New Zealand to track a giant squid. Ages 9+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4. Sequel to: Cryptid Hunters.

Spinal Talk

Posted in book spines, color, fonts on September 21, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I find book spines to be much more difficult to critique than the book faceout. It’s harder to define elements that attract, when space is so limited and so much has to fit.
So what elements can we consider here? I can identify a few.
1) Background color – looking at shelves of books in my library, I found that color was a great attractor. But there’s a trick that cannot be controlled by the designer: it matters what other books surround. I saw hot pink books that jumped right out at me – and hot pink books that disappeared in a crowd of other brightly colored spines. Metallic stands out – but only if there are not too many metallic inks nearby.
2) Fonts, their color and orientation – If the title is horizontal, the font may have to be smaller and more compact (unless it’s a very short title, or a very thick book).  I would have said the only other choice is vertical, usually running from top to bottom. But (see bottom photo) this past weekend I was visiting my father, an avid reader. There was a stack of books near his TV that kept drawing my eye over and over. Eventually it occurred to me that the reason why was because one of them had a feature I’d never seen on a book spine before – a diagonal title. Very difficult to do – but this works!
3) Graphic elements – A photo, a drawing, a design, lines – just something in addition to the author and title text that is there to assist in drawing attention to the book.
4) Multiples – I don’t know how else to say it. Multiple copies of a title on the shelf just catches my eye. I can’t explain it. Along with that, however, is the series effect. Series books will differ from book to book, but there’s a format that helps it to have that repeating effect.


With these defined elements in mind, I snapped a few pictures of spines that I thought succeeded in jumping out and saying “look at me!”
The McKay books above, Forever Rose, Indigo’s Star and Permanent Rose have an element that works every time for me. There’s something about a face (or just an eye) looking out from a spine. I can’t ignore it in a sea of letters and words.
The Crossley-Holland books really have that series effect, and the drawings almost do the eye/face thing.
I include Godless because the starring effect around the title, combined with the fact that there were four of them on the shelf… worked like a marquee.


The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage has a lot to work with because the books are so fat! But the designer did a lot with the faux old book look, foiled fonts, graphic elements and standout background colors. Love these!
And below, my father’s pile of books. I just love the diagonal look here. It’s so different and the slant is bound to attract any shelf-browsing eye. I have not seen any YA books that do this (hint, hint).

Slant Font

Hanging & Levitating: I Can Fly! Part 2

Posted in book covers, fonts on August 28, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Here are more books where feet, legs, and sometimes more, hang from the top of the book. It’s not that I think any of these are unattractive – I like all of them well enough.
BUT when I really get to thinking about what’s going on here, I get kind of creeped out. Feet, hanging loosely down with shoes untied on The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff (Laura Geringer, 2006)… makes me wonder. Did a kid hang himself?
No, I don’t really think that’s what it is. Georgie is a dwarf and probably this is what his feet look like when he’s sitting in a chair? But there’s no chair in the background… it’s just creepy.
And Hope is working on buying purple hiking boots in Call Me Hope by Gretchen Olson (Little Brown 2007). I get that. But why is she sitting in the sky?
On The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee (Knopf, 2009), is this Jenny jumping straight-legged up into the sky? Or did she hang herself too?
Clearly though, Larry of Larry and the Meaning of Life by Janet Tashjian (Henry Holt, 2008) is just levitating. OR is it just a strange use of The Rule of Three?

Feet 1Feet 2

Feet 3Feet 4

Just one thing about title text here. The curved title of The Anatomy of Wings is interesting. But why? I’m not sure if it means something, or shapes something or…???

Thing About Georgie: Georgie’s dwarfism causes problems, but he could always rely on his parents, his best friend, and classmate Jeanie the Meanie’s teasing, until a surprising announcement, a new boy in school, and a class project shake things up. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.
Call Me Hope: In Oregon, eleven-year-old Hope begins coping with her mother’s verbal abuse by devising survival strategies for herself based on a history unit about the Holocaust, and meanwhile she works toward buying a pair of purple hiking boots by helping at a second-hand shop. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.
Anatomy of Wings: After the suicide of her troubled teenage sister, eleven-year-old Jenny struggles to understand what actually happened. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4. Reading Group Guide.
Larry and the Meaning of Life: Larry (otherwise known as Josh) is in the doldrums, but after meeting a spiritual guru at Walden Pond who convinces him to join his study group, he starts to question his grasp of reality. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.

Catching Fire – on Fire!

Posted in book covers, color, fonts, shapes, symbols on May 30, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I wanted to say Catching Fire Catches Fire. But Publisher’s Weekly already said that
At BEA Friday, the ARCs were hard to come by, but I was lucky. I’m taking a break at the moment, a third of the way through this book which has, so far proved worth the buzz… YES, you gotta read this! (Yesterday!)
My purpose here, however, is to talk about the covers, not what’s between the them.

Hunger Games 35769901

I loved the cover of Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games (Scholastic 2008). It isn’t drastically different from the crowd, but it embraces a few of the conventions I’ve noted. Most particularly what I pointed out a couple of months ago in my post about what Liza Gilbert’s teens liked. “A real focal object, and a mysterious atmospheric quality. Mostly good type treatment Good hooks.”
The Hunger Games: Focal object?  CHECK. Mysterious atmospheric quality? You could say that. CHECK. Type treatment? Yeah – looks very futuristic. Probably a good hook. CHECK.
The way I interpret book #1’s jacket, which is to say, I think it fits the story (another CHECK), is this: There’s darkness in the land. Each circle marks one of the 12 districts (here linked, but with walls? blocking the links?). And there’s hope. A golden mockingjay pin marks the spot.
And here’s Catching Fire (Scholastic, 9/2009). Some brightness radiating out, with more light coming from District 12. No walls. The arrow has disappeared. Does that mean something?
And… what’s that? The mockingjay has come alive! Here’s another assessment of the symbols.
I love this cover, and I hope Scholastic sticks with this for the paperbacks (I beg you, Scholastic, do not put people on the paperback issues). I strongly dislike the UK (Australian?) Hunger Games cover. I’m not at all convinced that making the book look like 90% of the other books out there will hook readers. Here’s hoping that they stick with BUZZ and a great matching cover for the third book.
If you’re not as convinced as I am that this was a good choice, what do you think of the UK cover of Catching Fire? And do they really need Stephenie Meyer‘s name to boost sales? (Caveat: Amazon UK shows the U.S. cover so I’m not sure this is what they’re really releasing?).

Don’t miss this article at Publisher’s Weekly that flashes Hunger Games book jackets from around the globe.

Hunger Games: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place. (CIP) Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Trailer. Videos of Collins talking about the Hunger Games.
Catching Fire: By winning the annual Hunger Games, District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have secured a life of safety and plenty for themselves and their families, but because they won by defying the rules, they unwittingly become the faces of an impending rebellion. (CIP) Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2.

Not Quite 13 Reasons…

Posted in book covers, fonts on March 26, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I was never particularly fond of the US cover for Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (Razorbill 2008). Even before I read the book. I’d like to think of 13 reasons why this cover bothers me, but it’s all in there, too hazy to grab hold of. Maybe it’s the stark light and shadow (is that fitting?), or the duct tape boxes for the plain text… I don’t know.
Asher has posted various countries’ book covers of his very successful book on his blog. In my opinion this new UK cover, despite being in many ways like the oceans of book covers with girls on them (that I’ve grown tired of) is the most fitting for the book. The photo seems rightly chosen. I like the muted green color, the title font fits, and I even think the text blurb is well chosen to attract readers. And with success, Asher’s name gets to be bigger than the title. This is done often on adult books and can totally overwhelm the book jacket. It doesn’t here, so I don’t mind it.
I wonder what it’s like for a new author to see his name in type that’s larger than the title of his book?

13-reasons-us 13-reasons-uk

UPDATE:  See this post for eight different covers of this book.

Thirteen Reasons Why: When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah’s voice recounting the events leading up to her death. Ages 13+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.