A book from Wave Books can be recognized from across the room. Their distinctive cover design relies on stark, black-and-white contrast and strong typographical elements. This look has set them apart as a small press that has a clear brand recognizable simply from their covers.
The adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” has been proven to be bad advice not only for readers but also for publishers’ marketing teams. As it turns out, books’ covers are often exactly what they’re judged by.
How does one choose what book to read next? There are indeed a plethora of ways to discover your next literary treasure. Certain authors may interest you, you may be immersed in a genre, you may have been stunned by a book’s reputation, or you may pursue an interest in either something you love or something that is new to you. There is one approach, however, you supposedly should never use to choose what your next literary adventure will be, and that is judging the book by its cover. However, while this rule does apply to almost the entirety of the publishing world, there are always some exceptions.
Ooligan Press is mostly made up of students in either their first or second year of the master’s in book publishing program at PSU. This means that every student is working on a book project team or as a department manager in addition to taking another two or three classes. And who can find the time to create cover and interior designs as we juggle up to six books in development at once? The key is collaboration. By trusting each other as managers, creators, and book lovers with valuable feedback to give, we work toward a fully designed book that best reflects the essence of the final manuscript.
As the cover of a book communicates to the potential reader what lies within, many conventions have emerged to highlight certain genres, such as an old photograph that promises a memoir, or a shirtless muscular man that promises a romance novel. To investigate further, we’ll look at four popular books sold in both the US and the UK and see what each cover has to say about the same story.
I remember, at age eleven, seeing a copy of Lois Duncan’s 1976 young adult horror novel Summer of Fear featuring its original cover art at the Multnomah County Library and knowing immediately that I had to read it. And it wasn’t because I enjoyed the cover design; it was because I could barely look at it.