Hello and welcome to a new edition of Thought about. In this column a couple of other bloggers and I discuss a variety of bookish topics on a regular basis. The articles are linked at the bottom of this post. It’s been a while since the last Thought about, but we finally found another topic: today we discuss the design of books.
Inside hooey, outside phooey?
The cover of a book is relatively important to me because, in my opinion, the cover indicates the genre and the kind of story you can expect. If I see a book in the bookstore with a girl in a dress and a bit of scroll work (e.g. the German cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses or The Kiss of Deception) I can almost be certain, that this is a – usually romantic – fantasy story; not my taste, so I’m not further interested in this book.
It’s similar with the genre thriller. Most thrillers do have an obvious design – for example the combination of the colors white, black or red and have, in combination with the title, an “aggressive” appearance. These books are potentially interesting, if there wouldn’t be a problem: most of them look alike and read similarly.
So what’s important about a cover? Everyone has a different taste, everyone is attracted to something different. In order for me to take the book in my hand at the bookstore, it should show creativity and it should be a contrast to other books. An example for this could be colored edges – although this appears a lot recently so it isn’t a unique feature anymore. Another example is the unique “style” of the design, e.g. the combination of a distinct drawing style, the mix of certain colors, shiny effects that highlight the title and so on. Speaking of the title…
<title>Please insert generic book title</title>
The title is also a good identifier for the genre of a book. We all know the tables in the bookstores where we discover masses of words like “death”, “silence”, “pain”, “cut” etc. Well, which genre do I speak of? Thriller of course! The German titles may be partly caused by the translation (e.g. “One by one” becomes “Der Totschläger” [roughly translated back to “The killer”] or “A Faint Cold Fear” becomes “Dreh dich nicht um” [translated back to “Don’t turn around”] – what?!), but even in German it isn’t forbidden to think of some creative titles. A good example would be “Drecksspiel“. When I read titles like this I’m much more motivated to read a good thriller with a hopefully exciting story far from “mainstream” – but this is a discussion for another day. For me, it’s similar with words like “empire”, “flames” or “light”, “warrior”, “king” (high fantasy) or “sight”, “kiss” or “passion” (love story) in the title of a German book.
The special design
With some books, everything fits perfectly together – the title, the cover and the overall design. If the story is also exciting and convincing, the book definitely earned a place on my bookshelf. A good example for this is the Illuminae series. For the same reasons I was interested in The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich but sadly it couldn’t grab be at all, even though the design was really great and the style was fitting for the story.
As mentioned earlier, everyone has a different taste is attracted to something different in terms of books. The taste and design of books can add to the expectations I talked about in this post. Some readers aren’t influenced by the design and read the book, no matter the design.