Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Book Cover: JD Salinger

Most authors nowadays (or any other day for that matter) have very little say in how the cover of their book will look. Inevitably they end up pretty bland, with each genre having very specific requirements (usually involving a boring stock photo) – you can tell a chick lit cover a mile away, for example.

Reclusive author Jerome David Salinger (who died at the beginning of the year) was the exception to the rule, in that he made the rules. Salinger stipulated in his contract that none of his book covers should have any image or information other than author and title. So no newspaper quotes, plot summary or author bio. And no photos or illustrations (though searching through Google images, it seems this rule has been broken a few times at least...). I love the simplicity of the Penguin example above, bought today at Oxfam for 69p. The back cover is identical to the front.

More recently, book designer David Pearson has given Cormac McCarthy's novels a much needed face lift, using only old-fashioned (-looking... they were actually rubber stamps) type blocks. They look magnificent (even if quotes from newspapers are as big as the title and author. Apparently Pearson/McCarthy wanted to use quotes from the books, but this idea was rejected... no doubt by the marketing department). Compare with the original UK hardback and paperback release of McCarthy's The Road, which had an awful generic Getty image for the cover and a pretty ugly typeface.

Pearson also designed Penguin's Great Ideas and Popular Classics series, both featuring type-only covers.

Previously: On the Road; Versions of Covers

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