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Thread: judging books by their covers

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    Here are a few I'm particularly fond of, especially Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas' cover made me so interested, it's literally the only reason I bought the book. (And unlike Twilight, I was very pleasantly surprised!) I think non-illustrated covers can be well-done, classy, and suitable for the book just as well as illustrated ones. While hunting for covers, though, I did discover that nearly all my favourites are illustrated.







    The Never Let Me Go one is the hardcover edition I am so giddy to own. As pretty as Keira Knightly is, she's NOT the character, so I don't want her damn face on my book! Stupid movie covers... But the point is, all of these really work for their respective books. Cloud Atlas is divided into several different viewpoints/characters, and it's called freaking Cloud Atlas, hence the separated clouds. Death in Venice just works, somehow, showing Aschenbach but not actually showing his face (which is good form, imo.), and having the world be tilted and off-kilter just like his is when he arrives in Venice. Never Let Me Go manages to capture the sort of dreamy/reminiscing feeling of the novel. Yeeeeee books. God I love books, shut me up before I go on and on.

    And yeah, Twilight is unfortunately beautifully designed. Was looking for some fluff to read, thought it was particularly well-designed fluff, thought, "This should be good!" Nope. It wasn't just fluff, it was like, 99% air. You really shouldn't judge a book by its cover.


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    I was tidying the office and in a pile of cardboard tubes found my old poster of Middle Earth by Pauline Baynes that we were going on about earlier in the thread. A bit tatty at the edges from years of hardened blu-tac and Sellotape, but still in one piece. The Lament Configuration Box and an iPhone keep it in place though...

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    Here's couple I like, though not for fantasy (and that mirrored text on the second one is pretty lazy but anyway)


    Personally I might say that I actually prefer that sort of vague, moody photo covers (or very simple and graphical, like many Poe's "The Raven" covers tend to be) with crime and horror books that just set the mood, instead of trying to tell anything of the plot. Not sure why, it might be that it's the extra line between "this is drawn" and "this is from real world" that helps get into the horror mood. Or at least it requires properly unsettling style for the cover drawing at least.

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    littlebones thank you! These are good covers. I do like the one for Death In Venice a lot.

    I guess I feel that with photo covers, pictures that feature the faces of the models are less appealing than an illustrated cover that also features the face... I wonder why that is....

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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepingrabbit View Post
    littlebones thank you! These are good covers. I do like the one for Death In Venice a lot.

    I guess I feel that with photo covers, pictures that feature the faces of the models are less appealing than an illustrated cover that also features the face... I wonder why that is....
    Character descriptions are part of the game, once you have a photo that represents the character or it's someone in the real world it pulls you out of the fantasy vs an imagined character somewhere else.

    It's my opinion of course, but I like that feeling that the person *can* exist vs someone representing the character in question on the book. Of course with a movie then that actor is the person you may imagine if you hadn't read the book beforehand

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    It's my opinion of course, but I like that feeling that the person *can* exist vs someone representing the character in question on the book. Of course with a movie then that actor is the person you may imagine if you hadn't read the book beforehand
    On the flip side, with an actor you might recognize them as Famous Actor X, which would detract from thinking of them as the character.

    I strongly dislike books with movie stills on the cover largely because I want to imagine things for myself. And if I've seen the movie, having it on the cover will keep reminding me of the movie version and make it harder to be drawn into the book...

    Though I can understand why marketers would love it. The book becomes one more piece of fan paraphernalia for fans of the movie to buy. And it attracts people who saw the movie but never read - or maybe never even heard of - the book.

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    Flipping that over again, if I really enjoy a book and have read it a number of times, I won't go to see the film. Keeping your personal dream inside your head is getting harder these days.


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    Eh, I don't mind.

    Jurassic Park was different to me than the book, sill enjoyed it. Can't say much about the sequels though

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    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater View Post
    Saturn 3 was a bad choice man...but I guess you did it for Farrah.
    This. So worth it.

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    sleepingrabbit, I really like this one for "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". Haven't gotten around to reading it yet but I like the mood of the cover and (from what little I remember of the blurb) it sets the tone for the story well.



    It's the only one I can remember off the top of my head, though.

    I'm retracting my former statement about "not giving a rat's ass about covers/illustrations", by the way - somewhat, at least. A cover still doesn't influence if I buy a book or not (although I refuse to buy anything with movie stills, usually, the exception being my Penguin edition of Stoker's "Dracula") but looking back at the books I've grown up with there's a shitload of really amazing illustration work going on. I'll have to take some photos, never realized how good some of that stuff is in tying together words and images. (I'm looking at you, F.J. Tripp and Walter Moers!)



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    I buy most of my books at the second-hand book shop, so if I see something I want I snap it up quickly no matter what cover it's got because I might never see it there again.

    I can't think of any photograph covers that have stuck in my mind (apart from Twilight, just because it's every-freaking-where), but even as a child I was fascinated by various illustrated covers. I remember laboriously copying the stained-glass dragon on the cover of Donaldson's "Daughter of Regals" back in junior high because I liked it so much. Now that we have the Internet and everything can be found on it I've really enjoyed going through and finding the illustrators behind my favourite books. Going through Michael Whelan or Darrell Sweet's galleries is like taking a tour of my bookshelf.

    While I don't doubt that generic pretty-girl photo covers sell books, I don't think any of them will stick in readers' memories for very long.

    One thing I do think is that ebook "covers" (or rather promotional images) will get better because nothing says "my book has never seen an editor" like a photomanipulated cover the author's teenage nephew threw together. If I don't recognize the author and there's a shitty amateur image next to it I won't download it unless it's gotten four-star ratings from several hundred people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    I buy most of my books at the second-hand book shop, so if I see something I want I snap it up quickly no matter what cover it's got because I might never see it there again.
    Seriously, there are few places I'm happier in than a second hand bookstore. I even love the smell of old paperbacks and really enjoy the thrill of a bargain or finding something unexpectedly that you have wanted for years.

    Generally I find the dingier the second hand store, the better the selection!

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    TinyBird, I actually own those! (Well, my father does, but the lines blur quite a bit between "mine" and "yours" concerning books in this house.) I love them, they set the mood perfectly without constricting me to one particular scene or look for the characters/story.

    Star Eater, so very very true. The best second-hand bookshop I've been in was in Melbourne. It had two floors, was literally stuffed from top to bottom, with cramped, narrow passageways between shelves that would unexpecedly lead you to small stairs or doorways and tiny nooks and crannies everywhere (perfect hiding place for anyone, I'd dare say) and they even had a white line painted on the floor leading to the exit because customers used to get lost all the time. Wish I was back in Australia! Never seen any remotely decent second hand bookshop in Germany.



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    Speaking of second-hand bookstores, I saw Neil Gaiman's American Gods in one for 99 cents. ఠ_ఠ Needless to say, I bought that thing in a flash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater View Post
    Seriously, there are few places I'm happier in than a second hand bookstore. I even love the smell of old paperbacks and really enjoy the thrill of a bargain or finding something unexpectedly that you have wanted for years.
    Me too! I especially like going to used bookstores when I'm travelling because the reading habits are slightly different in other towns. Even within the city every used bookstore has a slightly different flavour. There was one I used to go for used CDs, one for sf/fantasy and one that was further away that always had weird books I wouldn't find elsewhere.

    It's even better when you find books in completely unexpected places. This summer I was wandering around a small town and I noticed a new-age shop was going out of business. I stopped in, expecting to see a lot of junk and they had one single bookshelf that was stuffed full of really good genre fiction. I got a few gems for super-cheap and my only disappointment was that I already owned the rest! And that someone had apparently spilled gravy on the copy of King's Danse Macabre.

    I've had to make do with the library for the past year, and while I also love the library it just isn't the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    It's even better when you find books in completely unexpected places.
    Oh totally! Sometimes I find the most unusual odds and ends in dinky little rural bookstores in the middle of nowhere... Or tucked in with other debris in a flea market or antique/junk shop. Though sometimes the BEST finds are at library book sales... They don't care about the market value, they just want to unload their old books as fast as possible, so you can find amazing deals... I once got a first-edition of "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" for ¢75 at a library sale, normally it costs around $75... Score!

    The used bookstores in NYC are cool too, though. It's cool just to hang out in a good used bookstore and rummage. The best ones have lots of obscure nooks and crannies and a cat, of course. And then there's the Strand... They've swallowed a lot of my income by now...

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    I'd like to share.

    One of our artists, Elena Bazanova (well-known watercolor artist who created her own techique), has recently produced illustrations for the book "Alice in Wonderland".
    Below are front and back covers. And here you can see some samples from the book.

    I'm sure this would be on the bookshelf in my childhood, I'd have convinced my parents to buy it only because of its cover.

    (The little white card with a key on the front cover says "Open Me!" - quite convincing as well.)

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  28. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    The best ones have lots of obscure nooks and crannies and a cat
    Haha yes, a cat is like some kind of code or symbol to second hand hunters. As soon as I'm completely better, my first stop is going to be to our local big, but dingy and densely packed charity book store. It's sometimes good to let a month or two go by between visits...

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere
    The best ones have lots of obscure nooks and crannies and a cat, of course. And then there's the Strand... They've swallowed a lot of my income by now...
    Yes, there's a local used bookstore with several locations and each has a bookstore cat. I used to stop in occasionally just to say hi to the cat... and walk out with a bagful of books.

    Quote Originally Posted by Star Eater
    As soon as I'm completely better, my first stop is going to be to our local big, but dingy and densely packed charity book store. It's sometimes good to let a month or two go by between visits...
    That sounds so nice. It's been a while since I've been to the local shop and I have a box of terrible books to trade in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by littlebones View Post
    I blame Twilight.

    eh I blame twilight for everything wrong with the world

    On topic yeah I think its just an easy way for them to save money thats the problem with technology the more better it gets the easier it is to cop out.

    There not fooling anyone though so they might as well just put a blank cover with the title of the book on it written in publisher with the colourful font effects.

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    Yeah, we always give our unwanted books away, I just cant bring myself to throw a book away, even a terrible one...to me that's just...wrong. It does make me laugh a bit though when I see multiple copies of the same bad book at almost -all- the second hand stores I go to.

    Anyway, sorry for taking the thread off the topic of covers yet again! But at least we are still talking about books.

    Actually reminds me of one of my all time favourite book covers, which is a mainly a photo. Just to show how awesome they can be:



    This is the hardcover of Shadowland which I own. (not my copy in the photo though) The cover drew me in, I love the dark blue and black and the crystal owl. (The owl plays a large part in the book and that crystal one in particular comes to life and flies around.)
    Its superior to any of the alternate illustrated covers (of which there are several.)

    Last edited by Star Eater; February 28th, 2012 at 05:12 PM.
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