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Words, Words, Words: Ten Typographic Book Covers

Beyond a good story, a cover might be the best piece of marketing a book can have. It’s the first thing readers notice when browsing a library, a store, a website. There are tropes and understandings that guide them to their preferred shelves—bright colors and an embracing couple suggests a romcom while tunics and dragons screams high fantasy. Beyond that, and as much as the old adage about judgement remains true when applied to people, a good cover (in all of its subjective glory) maintains the power to make someone at the very least pick up a book and examine its pages. A bad one? Well, it might not repel an entire audience, but it’s not going to help sales.

Honestly, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about book jacket design until a few years ago when I saw this TED talk from graphic designer Chip Kidd, who’s produced some of the most famous and eye-catching covers of all time. His love of design is infectious and, although he’s quick to make a joke, he hammers home the careful thought that goes into designing the image that ultimately becomes a representation of a story.

When I saw the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (Typographic Book Covers), my mind landed back on Chip Kidd’s presentation. Coming up with an image—or set of images—that conveys the meaning of 60,000+ words is complicated enough. To do with basically just an artistic rendering of the title? It’s a task that I’m sure feels almost impossible to get right.

And yet I think the following ten designs managed it perfectly.

One quick note and then it’s on to the books: while sifting through books, I often found it difficult locating who designed each jacket. In the worst cases, I couldn’t find credit at all. So, shoutout to the publishers who put this information front and center. Everyone else? Credit your designers.


Amphigorey
by Edward Gorey
cover by Edward Gorey

Goodreads


The Art of Fielding
by Chad Harbach
cover by Keith Hayes

Goodreads


Beloved
by Toni Morrison
cover by R. D. Scudellari

Goodreads


Coraline
by Neil Gaiman

Goodreads


Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?: A Memoir
by Séamas O’Reilly
cover by Gregg Kulick

Goodreads


Melissa
by Alex Gino
cover by Ellen Duda

Goodreads


One for the Money
by Janet Evanovich
cover by Jerry Todd

Goodreads


Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
by Michael Riedel
cover by Rex Bonomelli

Goodreads


Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis—and Themselves
by Andrew Ross Sorkin
cover by Heads of State

Goodreads


Up the Down Staircase
by Bel Kaufman

Goodreads


Note: Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Be sure to check out her weekly post to find other participants.

44 responses to “Words, Words, Words: Ten Typographic Book Covers”

  1. Great examples. I especially like your first example. Wow.

    Typographical cover examples

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rae | HerSerialLife.com Avatar
    Rae | HerSerialLife.com

    Great list and picks of typographic covers. We don’t have any books in common this week, but these titles sound very interesting.
    Here is my TTT: https://herseriallife.com/top-10-books-with-typographic-covers/
    Have a great week 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised at how little in common most posts had this week. There’s a lot of typographic covers out there!

      Like

  3. Great looking covers. I didn’t even think about finding out who designed the covers 🙈

    Have a good week!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
    My post:

    Top Ten Tuesday – Typographic Book Covers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of these were genuinely a pain to find out who the artist was. Very annoying!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not surprised! What should be a fairly simple task turns into something mammoth!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You found some fantastic examples, Christopher! And I agree with you. Why can’t more publishing houses credit the artist behind the cover design?

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!
    https://readbakecreate.com/ten-book-titles-starting-with-the-letter-a/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does seem like a lot more do it now, but finding credit for some of these was such a pain.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Up the Down Staircase… I loved that book. I read it years and years ago, from the library, and now… you know, I think I’d like to get a copy for my shelves!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the cover for that one! I haven’t read it in years and don’t remember much about it, but that cover has always stuck with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe that was the cover of the copy I read.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this week’s topic! Probably because it’s mine! LOL!!! Great choices Christopher. Some lovely books on your list today.

    Happy TTT!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such a great topic—and very unique! It was nice to do one I’ve never even touched on before.

      Like

    1. I love that cover—and the book’s a lot of fun, too.

      Like

  7. What a cool topic! Love your choices, Christopher💜 I need to pay more attention to the designers of these creative inventions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always enjoy checking out a designer’s website when I find a cover I really like. It’s pretty great seeing what else they’ve worked on.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the Coraline cover!

    Like

  9. Good picks! I’ve read some of these but my list had no overlap. There are quite a lot of such covers out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really surprised me when I started digging just how many stick to the typographic cover. Not a ton of overlap with many people this week, which is fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Razzle Dazzle makes me smile for some reason. I love the lights.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I absolutely love the Edward Gorey covers, some of my favorites! Although everything Edward Gorey is perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Edward Gorey! Oh, how I love his artwork! I had a poster of The Gashlycrumb Tinies in college – a different name and form of death for each letter of the alphabet. The only one I remember now is “N is for Neville, who died of ennui.”

    Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love that. I’ve wanted a Gorey print for a long time, but I can’t make a decision on what I’d want. Everything of his is so good.

      Like

  13. I love that you credited the designers. I didn’t even think to look up who designed the covers on my list. I will have to research them. They most certainly do deserve credit. I have One for the Money on my list too. That was the first one I thought of for this challenge. 🙂

    Like

    1. You can’t go wrong with One for the Money. I love that book. And yeah! Hopefully you’ll have an easier time finding the designers than I did … so many of them weren’t listed.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I love the cover for Coraline!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This prompt has definitely gotten me wondering about how covers are designed. Why does an artist choose to use mostly words instead of images? And how do they decide which vibe to use? It’s interesting. I’ll have to watch that TedTalk you mentioned. Sounds like a good one.

    Happy TTT (on a Wednesday)!

    Susan
    http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you check it out! I’m fascinated by how covers and books are designed. There’s so much work behind creating what essentially becomes a skin for a bunch of words.

      Like

  16. I love the cover of Melissa! And thanks for pointing out that podcast; I’ll have to check it out.

    Like

    1. I love that one, too! So simple yet intriguing.

      Like

  17. I’ve always thought the Evanovich covers were fun. I like beloved too- simple yet effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the Evanovich covers. I think it’s more nostalgia than anything, but I love seeing them.

      Like

  18. Learned a new word typographic, but I rarely see a typographic cover and say “Wow!” Just a personal preference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s totally fair! It’s hard to make one that really lands.

      Liked by 1 person

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