Ketchup Clouds/My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

kc-packshotThis book choice was not made by me. My ten-year-old daughter came rushing up, delighted, to show me these beautiful sprayed edges (a feature on both Annabel Pitcher’s exquisitely designed paperbacks). Most importantly, she was very clear about the message the book was sending her: “This must be a really good and popular author because the publisher has put a lot of effort into making this book.”

mantelpiece-packshot

This is the ultimate goal of all those painful hours of covers meetings, design, finish discussions, copywriting and quality checking — to show our readers that we care about our books and our authors… and that they should, too.

Keep that goal at the forefront throughout the process and great things will happen — books that speak to readers of all ages and authors who feel loved.

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The Bubble Wrap Boy

Sbubble-wrap-boy-jpg-largeome of the most innovative and eye-catching cover designs are to be found on children’s books at the moment — a much-needed response, perhaps, to the many other, very visual demands on children’s time and interest. The Bubble Wrap Boy is a fantastic example of a simple idea executed perfectly.

The use of collage gives this cover an unusual depth, even as a tiny thumbnail, while the juxtaposition of photography and sketch suggests a tension between growing up and staying a child.

What’s even more pleasing (and something that children always find particularly satisfying) is that the back cover continues this attention to detail, with a back view of the same boy acting as a holder for the beautifully designed blurb.
With examples like this, children’s book design should be studied closely by publishers across all genres and age ranges.



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Chop Chop

chop-chopWe spotted this on Twitter. It shouted loudly amidst the clutter of  the new image-rich timeline, even on a small smartphone screen.

It’s a brilliant example of design for a thumbnail age — clear, bold and with crispness and definition. It creates a shape — an icon — that works even when the text is illegible. And, crucially, its uniqueness makes it a cover that everyone will want to share and discuss.

It’s also one of our favourite types of cover; one that isn’t afraid to be brash and — dare we say it — “ugly”. It’s the sort of cover that often gets watered down at jacket meetings, where the sensitivities of the reader and/or the customer are discussed in minute — and usually misguided — detail. It doesn’t try to explain itself and is unapologetically in-your-face; so much so that you can’t help but notice it.

This is the proof cover. We really hope that the final version stays just as confident. We expect to see it popping up on our timelines many times over the coming months, and hope that all publishers are making sure they produce striking designs like this that their authors and staff will shout about.

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LES MISERABLES

les-miserablesThe “Classics” shelf in any bookshop is normally a sea of red and black — so much so that I often walk past without really noticing it.

But this spine from Penguin Classics is a brilliant move that disrupts the genre and leaps from the shelf… without being too unusual or offputting for a more traditional reader.

les-miserables-on-shelf

Penguin have taken the conventional colour palette adopted by pretty much every publisher and made the most of this wider-than-usual spine to give Les Misérables the strongest possible chance of being noticed by even the most casual browser.

It’s clever and, most importantly, really beautiful — a gorgeous, gifty object as well as a commercially smart piece of design.


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Pitt Cue Co. — Cookbook

pitt-cueThis is one of the great blurbs — indeed, we have even heard people talk about it at dinner parties. (Yes, those are the kind of dinner parties we go to…)

Why is it so noteworthy?

Because it consists of nothing more than a letter from someone who went to the Pitt Cue restaurant and was so impressed he wrote to the owners about his experience. He praised every detail, from the clothing of the waitress, to the quality of service, to the fabulous food.

The letter is laden with expletives and odd observations which give it a ring of authenticity that no clever copywriter could ever dream up.

It is worth buying this book just to read it.

Congratulations to the publishers for having the audacity to use it as their blurb. It is just a crying shame that they didn’t have the balls to use it on their Amazon listing too — if they had, it may well have gone viral.




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Police

case-2Many, many hours are spent at publishers’ jacket meetings debating front covers, but little or no time is devoted to the other features that can make the difference between an ordinary book and a special one – crucial weapons in the struggle for visibility.


Police demonstrates attention to detail in every aspect of the design. Far from resting on the author’s best-selling laurels, the whole book works hard to appeal to new and existing Nesbo readers.


The fact this is a new Harry Hole novel is given prominence on the spine, there is a black ribbon and the endpapers feature a hand-drawn map of Oslo.


And, finally, there is a surprise for the reader – stylish cover boards, which make the book even more attractive as a gift or self-purchase.


These extras combine to give a clear signal that this author is special to his publisher – a convincing way to encourage purchase.

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Tampa


rgb-tampa-finalWoah.
If you are going to launch a debut novelist with style, confidence and a cover that will get everyone talking, this is how you do it.
The subject matter is controversial anyway, but this witty, daring treatment will grab the attention of even those casual browsers who have no prior knowledge of the book — you can’t fail to be shocked and intrigued in equal measure.
What’s even more impressive is the care that has gone into the whole package — front, back and spine. There is a satisfying consistency and an attention to detail that show just how much faith Faber have in their new author and indicate that this is a book worth reading.
This book will cause much debate and will horrify many people. But it’s great to see bravery in commissioning translated so successfully to the look and feel of the whole object.



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I Am Pilgrim

This just a proof… but so much clever thinking has gone into its presentation that we really hope this approach will make its way on to the final book.


By tapping into the popularity of box sets, Transworld have done several smart things, as well as having made the book look completely different to anything else out there.


Inside the box is a very chunky book, but segmenting it in this way makes it feel much less formidable. The individual titles also give the sense of place and action that the obscure main title can’t convey, and avoid the usual need to explain the plot in a lengthy blurb.


And – most importantly – the underlying message is a powerful one: I Am Pilgrim is so gripping that, as with a DVD box set, you’ll want to shut the door, pour yourself a drink and devour the book in one long sitting.

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The Goldfinch

goldfinchThere will have been a lot of attention paid to this cover, and it shows.

It is fresh, confident and memorable.

Given the title, plot and genre it would have been so easy to end up with a beautiful but boring painting of a bird. (All very arty but it would have added little to the overall communication.)

Instead, by using the rip device to reveal the bird behind it, the publishers have created something all together more graphic and intriguing.

The rough paper, taped edge and handwritten type create the sense of an intensely personal story. Interestingly, they also make the package peculiarly tactile.

We quibble, however, with the words ‘A novel’, as we have done many times before. How many people won’t be able to work this out from the Amazon description, the signage on the bookshop shelf or the blurb on the back? It feels like an industry practice that is maintained out of fearful habit rather than genuine need.

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Ultimatum

ultimatum-1As regular visitors to Fixabook will know, we despair at missed opportunities on hardback covers. So often we see back covers with anodyne review quotes, meaningless author pictures… or just nothing at all.

So it is fantastic to see this — a hardback blurb that acts as an advert — a trailer — for the book. It doesn’t bombard you with a synopsis or exhaustive character list; nor does it try to impress you with reviews. It just heads straight to the heart of the action.

What’s even better is that Century have resisted the temptation to stick a long plot summary on the inside flap. Once again, the copy takes you immediately into the book’s dilemma and makes you want to read on.

ultimatum-front-flap-1

At a time when money is tight and hardbacks are increasingly expensive, it is even more important to apply this sort of thinking across all genres and to make our back covers work as hard as they possibly can.

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