When it comes to looking for the latest crime novel by your favorite best-selling author, fans don’t want the mystery to begin in the bookstore, so publishers sprinkle graphic clues on the jacket cover to lead shoppers to the writers they want. The covers, shown here, are by designer Peter Mendelsund, associate art director at Knopf, for the Jo Nesbo series; design firm Richard, Brock, Miller and Mitchell (RBMM) for the Dick Francis horse-racing murder mysteries, and designer Michael Stirrings for the Sue Grafton alphabet murders. In such cases, the cover design “brands” the book as part of a series, and signals the likely appearance of recurring main characters — e.g., Nesbo’s detective Harry Hole and Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone. Familiarity sells.
Designing a book cover is an exercise in balance. The image or graphic has to distill the story without giving away the plot. It has to create “shelf presence” to entice shoppers to pick up the book for a closer look. It has to avoid false advertising, but can’t be boring, even if the content is. It should give shoppers a sense of the genre – suspense, sci-fi, romance, self-help, current events – but imply that the author has a unique and fascinating take on the subject. While it is true that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” it is also true that you can design a cover that makes shoppers want to buy the book. This video from Random House features interviews with book designers from its publishing groups (Random House, Knopf Doubleday and Crown) providing insights into the complex process of creating compelling, eye-catching and meaningful book cover jackets.
Would you like history better if everything wasn’t so old? This ad campaign to promote UKTV Yesterday Channel’s new 14- part series called “The Secret Life of…” makes over famous figures to help us understand how they might present themselves if they were alive today. The Yesterday channel — which uses the tagline “Entertainment inspired by history” — commissioned award-winning author/historian Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb to work with a team of digital artists to give classic portraits an up-to-date twist. Queen Elizabeth I looks like an “iron lady” CEO who enjoys downsizing under performers.
From the bestselling author Jonah Lehrer comes “Imagine: How Creativity Works” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Lehrer explains that his latest book “is about our most important mental talent: the ability to imagine what has never existed. We take this talent for granted, but our lives are defined by it. There is the pop song on the radio and the gadget in your pocket, the art on the wall and the air conditioner in the window. There is the medicine in the bathroom and the chair you are sitting in…” He gives real world examples from Pixar and Second City to Bob Dylan and Yo-Yo Ma. He goes on to say that “creativity is not a gift possessed by a lucky few; it’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively.” Here he offers five tips from his book on how to increase your creative potential.
Editor’s note: People often ask the difference between how a public relation expert goes about wooing customers versus an ad agency, a designer, etc. In his top-selling book Zag: The No. 1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands,Marty Neumeier summarizes the differences in this tongue-in-cheek visualization. Neumeier is the author of several books on branding, lecturer and Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, where he helps companies build their brands from the inside out. His book was published before social media caught on, so we don’t know how Twitter would fit into this comparison? Maybe a courtship between two emoticons.