It’s October already, and time for another shelf-full of great book-cover design. This month features a fair few imported designs from the US, rather ironic given a recent Guardian piece arguing the merits of cover design either side of the Atlantic, perhaps: Rachel Willey, Oliver Munday and Rodrigo Corral, three of the most estimable designers operating in the US presently, all feature here, as do a number of other Stateside-based creatives.
From our perspective, whether a designer is based in the UK, the US, or even the UAE, each is trying to fulfil a brief and appease a (surprisingly large) number of parties; weighing the merits of different jacket designs might be a fun exercise, but it reveals more about the readers, marketers, and confines and dexterity (or not) of genres in a given country, than it does about the designer in question’s skill. Of the tens of thousands of books published annually, I would wager only a handful are clothed in a designer’s original and unaltered visual - and this is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing. Successful covers manage to toe the line between beauty and marketability, and neither commercial nor creative departments have a monopoly on being ‘right’. The recent (excellent) Killed Covers event, held at St Bride’s in central London, revealed the extent to which jacket compositions and ideas are altered before they reach bookshop shelves. It may very well surprise you quite how extensive and numerous those amendments are, and surely no-one left the event in any doubt as to the designers’ skill, commitment, flexibility and thorough persistence. Congratulations to its organisers Nico Taylor, Ceara Elliott and Jack Smyth, proud designer of the UK edition of the Hillary Clinton jacket and a double award-winner at this year’s ABCD awards, voted for by design peers working within the industry. #strongertogether.
Anyhow, this month’s batch feature four Bloomsbury titles, including two by co-field-leader Jim Tierney (Glenn O’Neill also has two, for Heinemann), and three from the Vintage stable. There’s also a showing for Michael Oswell, recently nominated for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year; and Charlotte Heal—designer of lavish cookbooks Nanban, The Mushroom Picker and The New Vegetarian—who turns her editorial excellence to Lisboa for Bloomsbury. Two other notable inclusions have a slightly surreal twist: Roald Dahl’s Deception, and Thames & Hudson’s The Militant Muse are both offbeat, and both super.
As ever, let us know your favourites and do share your favourites from our Instagram page, where these will be uploaded throughout the month.
First up we have Allen Lane publication Of Women, written by Shami Chakrabarti. It was designed by Matthew Young, under the art direction of Jim Stoddart. It’s next to Jim Tierney’s livery for T C Boyle’s The Relive Box (Bloomsbury).
Tierney and Boyle and Bloomsbury return with The Terranauts, which sits alongside another Bloomsbury release: All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler, which uses US artwork created by Patti Ratchford.
The fourth and final Bloomsbury cover in this month’s round-up is Charlotte Heal’s aforementioned creation for the cookbook Lisboa, authored by Nuno Mendes. It’s next to Doubleday’s publication Logical Family: A Memoir by Armitstead Maupin, which uses the US artwork, created by Milan Bozic.
River Cafe 30 (Ebury) celebrated the three-decade anniversary of the restaurant with pink sprayed edges (check it out in-real-life) for a cookbook designed by Michael Nash Associates. Black Earth City by Charlotte Hobson was designed by Faber’s Patrick Fox.
Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx was art directed by Camille Pichon and illustrated by Joe Todd Stanton (who also authored the title) for Flying Eye Books, while Gollancz’ The White City, written by Simon Morden, was designed and illustrated by agency Blacksheep.