Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but what about simply judging a book’s cover?
Earlier this week, The Millions posted a nice feature comparing the US and UK book covers of some of the top novels of the past year, showing how designers (or at least marketing executives) think different constituencies are going to be attracted by different designs.
And how sometimes how those designs have absolutely nothing to do with the book.
For instance, the US version of Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs doesn’t hold a candle to its UK counterpart, especially when it comes to conveying what the book is about while the UK version of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin is almost laughable compared to Matteo Pericoli’s intricate, elegant drawing on the cover of the US version.
The book is described as:
“In the 17th Century vast numbers of Irish men, women and children were forcibly transported to the American colonies by the British government. In this spectacular reinvention and examination of history, Colum McCann goes to the heart one of the great untold stories of our times as he follows a group of Irish indentured servants on their voyage to the West Indies, their plight on the Atlantic seas, their subsequent serfdom and their eventual liberation on the wave of a bloody revolution. This is a gripping portrayal of another century, another continent, another loss, told in McCann’s unique trademark prose, simultaneously stripped down and lyrical.”
Sounds great, right?
Well, the thing is I won’t be able to read the book because it doesn’t exist.
It’s part of a project called The Hypothetical Library being undertaken by Charlie Orr, a part-time book designer.
“I ask each writer to provide flap copy for a book that they haven’t, won’t, but in theory could, write, and then I design a cover for it,” Orr writes on his blog.
I’d say he’s off to a great start.