The Sunday Salon: The Book Cover Archive

There comes a moment in a reader’s life when she realizes that pretty book covers lie. This can come quite early for some, or quite late. As recent as my junior year of high school, I was so taken by an Art Nouveau book cover that I read the sub-par book it clad. I have since forgotten the name, for good and obvious reasons. But I’ve never really learned my lesson, to be totally honest. My head is still turned by particularly becoming or striking book covers, but I do try and at least see if the story sounds good or interesting before I add it to the list. But I’ve discovered a new way to satisfy the undeveloped graphic designer in me–the Book Cover Archive.

The Book Cover Archive is exactly what it says on the tin, folks–it’s an archive of book covers. But each entry for a cover also includes information about the people that designed it. This is absolutely fascinating. Some designers play with different styles for different books, while others have a more or less steady style applied to each cover. The Book Cover Archive has a randomize button, and it’s fun to weave your way to a certain designer’s work through that. But what really sets my heart aflutter is the fact that the Archive also lists the typefaces used on the covers, allowing me to find them (as well as pray that they’re free or affordable) and look at all the covers that use the same font.

I have noticed that I tend to have a pattern in what book covers I gravitate towards. Especially for speculative fiction, few things beat wonderful art for the cover, be it illustrated or photographed. While I do love covers that get creative with text, they’re just not as effective as art, especially art commissioned for that work in particular, although I have nothing against the use of classic art on the covers of, well, classics these days. But that does lend itself to copies–a book blog that I cannot remember off the top of my head actually has a consistent feature highlighting reissues of classics or historical fiction that use the same piece of art. Still, as long as there’s no doubles in my collection in the end, I’m happy.

In other news, I’m traveling at the moment, which I’m none too happy about. I’m actually writing this last Tuesday so it can go up in time–I never know about my access to the Internet when the family is traveling. I ought to be working my way through The Far Traveler at the moment, but if my reading is going very well, then I’m reading The Gaslight Dogs. (And if it’s going really well, I’m reading The Silmarillion.) Hopefully, I’ll be back soon so I can hit up the library for more and finish Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s third season.

What kind of book covers do you prefer?

2 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: The Book Cover Archive

  1. That Book Cover Archive site is great! I was drawn to click on the cover for A Town Like Alice and found out that the designer, Jamie Keenan, had also designed the cover for Never Let Me Go that I really liked.

    Recently, I have been intrigued by the cover design for War by Sebastian Junger. I’m not sure there is a specific characteristic for book designs that I love, but I think I like the ones that use photos (with or without people). The covers that use paintings of people are generally not as attractive to me. I think I like font that is bold and clear, not like script.

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