Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Part 1: This Blog Be About Books

Ok, so summer is finally here (at least that's if you are a college student not taking summer school) which means it's time to catch up on all that reading I've been hording like some sort of treasure crazy dragon. The simple fact is I LOVE BOOKS, I love buying them, sorting them, organizing them and finally reading them, which lets face it, not much time during a design heavy semester. I'm so book crazy I have a computer program to sort and categorize my books, I belong to goodreads, where I can do more sorting, organizing and reviewing (plus I'm a librarian on the site, which means I can edit codes and descriptions, pure heaven, plus invite authors, oh the I mean...all the help I can be to other readers) and now I've started this blog, and lets get one thing straight, it's going to be book heavy, very heavy, like complete works of Shakespeare combined with Trollope heavy, with a side of Austen (and yes she wrote only 6 books, but if you have 10 different editions of every one of her books, you get where I'm going right?)

To start my booktopia I'm creating here I'll start with the thing that draws us to books, otherwise known as the covers. Despite the old adage, never judge a book by it's cover, we all do. The publishing industry spends a lot of valuable time and resources to draw us in (and I should know I'm a graphic designer and book jacket design is a lucrative area to tap into). There are studies done that show teens are more likely to buy a book aimed at them because it has a photopraph of a teen they can identify with versus a painting. Case in point is the Bayern series by Shannon Hale (which everyone should read, just because it's Young Adult doesn't mean it excludes you, more on this in later posts.)

First example: The original covers by the talented Alison Jay

Second example: The new photo covers so the book will sell more

And while I get the decision from a monetary point of view, I'd like all my books to be uniform. I'm not actually against the new covers, I'm against the change at all. But if this means that Shannon Hale will make more money, I'm happy. Another series that irks me is the Charlaine Harris Southern Vampire Series, I like the covers and they have remained consistent, but the size keeps changing! They now have three different sizes, book 4 is medium, books 5-7 and the re-issues of 1 and 2 are smaller, the same size as her Harper Connelly books, whereas books 8 and 9 are huge.

But the final question is while we can be swayed to pick a book up by the cover will you actually buy a book that sounds like total garbage? What really bugs me is when I go to the store and pick up a book cause it has the coolest cover in the world and then I realize, I've picked up this book before, many many times before and each time I go, oh cool cover, sounds like crap though. So to add another adage, buyer beware. Of course though there are those lucky times when a great book and a marvelous design combine into one great whole. I've been reading Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. The paperback re-issues (seen above) for the tie-in with "Michael Tolliver Lives" are by far some of the coolest design work I have seen in years. They all connect together to form a panorama of San Francisco on the covers but also on the spines. They look just gorgeous on your bookshelf:

But not only that, they are witty funny books about San Francisco during the 70s and 80s with a humorous cast of characters. An homage to the city the books so proudly represent (now in design as well as word). I'd give them a strong recommendation any day. If you're interested in more in depth reviews on these books, go over to goodreads and see what others besides me have to say, or you could also read my full reviews, which I didn't include here because this was more about the design then the dissection of the books.

Also interesting final note (due to Pooh being in the picture), the title of the last "official" Tales of the City book was taken from a quote by A. A. Milne, one of my favorites:
"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh?' he whispered.
'Yes, Piglet?'
'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'"


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