Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nine Notes on Book Covers

Instead of writing a long, dithery, emphatic rant of my very strong views about book covers (which still might erupt here someday - bits of magma are plopping about in an ominous fashion as we speak), I will give you a bit out of Other Colors by Orhan Pamuk, because he probably knows a teensy bit more about books than I do.

If a novelist can finish a book without dreaming of its cover, he is wise, well-rounded and a fully formed adult, but he's also lost the innocence that made him a novelist in the first place.
We cannot recall the books we love most without also recalling their covers.
We would all like to see more readers buying books for their covers and more critics despising books written with those same readers in mind.
Detailed depictions of heroes on book covers insults not just the author's imagination but also his readers'. 
When designers decide that The Red and The Black deserves a red and black jacket, or when they decorate books entitled Blue House or Chateau with illustrations of blue houses or chateaux, they do not leave us thinking they've been faithful to the text but wondering if they've even read it. 
If, years after reading a book, we catch a glimpse of its cover, we are returned at once to that long-ago day when we curled up in a corner with that book to enter the hidden world inside.
Successful book covers serve as conduits, spiriting us away from the ordinary world in which we live, ushering us into the world of the book.
A bookshop owes its allure not to its books but to the variety of their covers.
Book titles are like people's names: They help us distinguish a book from the million other it resembles. But book covers are like people's faces: Either they remind us of a happiness we once knew or they promise a world we have yet to explore. That is why we gaze at book covers as passionately as we do at faces.
Can I get an amen?  I'm really getting worked up about four and five right now.  Like, I feel as if I want to sock somebody right in the eye or brandish a sign and yell very loudly.

If I end up designing book covers (which is the current career of my dreams) I hope I always remember what things are like from the other side, and stick to my convictions and never, ever pander or give the okay to things that aren't okay.  I'd rather work some hideous, soul-destroying job than put my name to bad book covers. If I don't have the guts to do good work, I hope I have enough not to do any work at all.
But I might go to cosmetology school or become an archaeologist.  So who knows.

Me vs. Orhan
He may be smarter, but I look cooler because cool people wear sunglasses indoors. 
(P.S. I'm a girl, in case you couldn't tell.)

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