Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beautiful Book Covers, Part 3

Can you judge a book by its cover? Well, publishers are certainly hoping so. With the Internet and e-books cutting into sales of hardbacks and paperbacks, many of those in the publishing world are now going that extra length to ensure that the books they print are the kind readers will adore at first sight – and purchase in place of an electronic version. Covers are being given to 'star artists' to illustrate, spines are being refined and even end papers (the pages inside the jacket) are being given intense consideration. It's all part of a new push to make books covetable and utterly un-put-downable. The kind of objects you'd put on your coffee table – next to the other collectables.

At Avenue Bookstore yesterday, I stumbled across the most beautiful book covers I'd seen for a long while. Two were so gorgeous I just had to buy them. I've attached them here, along with some others I noticed. I've always been a girl who loves a good book cover.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Pan Macmillan imprint Picador is re-issuing 12 of its ‘greatest novels’ in March. These collector's editions, which seem to be inspired by Penguin's success with its re-issed covers, includes such bestselling authors as Cormac McCarthy, Alice Sebold, Helen Fielding, Graham Swift, Alan Hollinghurst and Australia’s Tim Winton. I particularly love The Line of Beauty (top image, with a second version below), and All The Pretty Horses (below). These jackets would make me want to read these books, so if this is what publishers are aiming for, the design ruse is definitely working.

You can read more about Picador's re-issued covers here .

This is the most fabulous cookbook cover I've seen in a long time! A new edition from Murdoch, it's authored by Matt Wilkinson, the extraordinary chef of cult Melbourne restaurant Pope Joan (formerly head chef at the well-known Circa in St Kilda). I remember telling him to do a cookbook when I photographed him several years ago. I put him onto Murdoch and gave him some contacts. I'm so thrilled to see the results! (Not that I had anything to do with it.) The pages inside are just as pretty as the cover. I actually bought this for the cover! (That, and the face that we need to eat more vegetables in our house.)

Meanwhile, Penguin USA continues to reprint their classics in truly gorgeous jackets. The latest to cause readers to do a literary backflip are the Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics series. They come on the heels of the success of Penguin Ink, and are the result of Creative Director Paul Buckley and illustrator Jillian Tamaki. The embroidered cover art for these titles was hand-stitched with colored threads by Tamaki. Just exquisite. There's Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic The Secret Garden, Jane Austen's Emma, and Sewell's Black Beauty.

And the trend for silhouette book covers continues to go from strength to strength. It began several years ago, and now there seems to be a whole new genre of silhouette/vector-art covers in the market!


  1. Hi Janelle
    A very clever marketing ploy. I have been known to buy books based on what the cover looks like. I do read them as well, but my initial purchase is made because of the cover design or colour. Love these black and white covers.

  2. For 16 years Carolyn Quartermaine's Unwrapped and Kay Pyke's Sumptuous Settings have had pride of place. Unwrapped because the cover is beautiful and I love every page of the book. Kay Pyke's ...I bought it because of the cover as it is a book on embroidery patterns and I have never embroidered in my life!!!!!!
    My copy of To Kill a Mockingbird is rather tattered and worn out perhaps it is time to invest in a new copy!!!
    Perhaps I do judge a book by it's cover after all!!!!!

  3. Sighing in Hobart, Janelle. They are just so captivating. Clever marketers indeed! J x

  4. Yes I was just saying this to hubs, I think books - hardbacks are becoming more beautiful and although bookshops are on the demise I think we will eventually see the rise of the 'boutique book shop.'

  5. hi janelle
    do you ever need models for your book covers? i have done modelling before but would prfer to do book covers but have no idea where to look for that type of modelling :) x thanks Jay x


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