A decade ago, when my publisher or Box emailed me to say they had finished covering the cover of my first novel, EvellandThey asked me to prepare for something different.
We’ve been going back and forth on a few concepts, including one design with a large respiratory mask that appears to be strapped around the book itself—a reference to a fictional gaseous drug in the story. The updated version that landed in my inbox kept the mask but changed the background to a violent red. He also removed my name and the title of the novel, and these went down the spine alone. The front cover has become a surprising and mysterious image without context, one that calls for curiosity and even slight alarm.
I realized why the publishers phrased their message so sweetly: Not every young author would be happy to see themselves away from the prime real estate in their final work. I loved it, though, not just for the catchy visual; I also learned that there is nothing like it in any library I’ve visited. This was something quite unusual.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that experience when browsing contemporary fiction today? To pick up a volume because it stands out like a stranger on her face? so sad. As critics and influencers continue to point out, cover art has regressed in recent years to a kind of arithmetic mean: colorful, crowded blobs. For all their potential liveliness, these geometric shapes are a far cry from the emphatic expressionism that dominated twentieth-century painting – they are frosty and hesitant, more like the painting itself than any catchy vision one might create with these saturated shapes.
It is important to say here that the authors or the artists themselves cannot be blamed in this direction. It is not an issue of designers or designers running away from defeat. Nicole Caputo, Creative Director at Catapult Books, contributed to abstract fashion with her cover of Zina Arafat’s 2020 novel. You are too muchSaturate the art with attractively shimmering gold stripes, and choose a similarly vibrant dancing flame for Shruti Swami Stories collection in the same year, home is a body. But in other projects, I resorted to smart photography And the Painter details are vivid. Lauren Peters Collier, who presented the 2020 novel by Brett Bennett vanishing half Maybe the cover of the basic blobby book, it has a file a file Filled with varied and poignant combinations, occasionally returning only to areas of speckled color – as in the 2021 novel after the sunWritten by Jonas Eka. It is worth noting that both books are from the Penguin Group Riverhead imprint, indicating internal routing.
There are greater industrial forces beyond the artist’s control. Among them Amazon Recommendation Engine, a mechanism that constantly equates products as interchangeable and thus induces a kind of standardization. You probably remember when every book was titled “The [Blank]wife “or” [Blank]”Daughter,” another result of the publishing world trying to design new novels according to a bestseller chart. Or you may have noticed the more recent phenomenon of long and precious lyrical titles, in the context of Ocean Vuong’s On Earth, we’re cool for a while.
By (literally) obliterating a whole host of authors together in bright, often meaningless hues, major book publishers hope to maintain financial consistency with an aesthetic consistency — playful but harmless, on Instagram-baity though polished. This strategy not only creates pet peeves for participating readers who prefer to buy books with a more individual external character, it also harms the book, because there is no impression To it, only the steamy feelings that are present, or whatever.
No, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Nor should books be grouped together under this vague disguise as if they were too much alike. Although many of these narratives grapple with themes of identity as experienced by women, people of color, and diaspora, few have a defined visual identity themselves. Representing the zeitgeist of the page is not cost-effective, nor is it safe to stray from the zeitgeist. The stories told among these wrappers deserve more intended artifacts. Especially in the age of the Kindle (talking again about Amazon’s flat effect), the book should be fun to hold in your hands.
We leave a lot of other things on the table. Beautiful and incendiary picture. Paintings that are not just placeholders for service but have a life or character of their own. Drawing prowess makes us look twice, and perhaps rethink what we look like. Oster covers filled with cool spaces or confusing fields of skewed, messy lettering. All that doesn’t make it sound like you’re taking a new type of Rorschach test. There’s an unfortunate atmosphere from preschool to spots, don’t you – you realize it when you pick up a UK version and come face-to-face with a strong, daring cover that feels Senior Compared to the US version.
Several years ago, I’m sure the abstract colored wrap had a psychedelic effect, announcing the arrival of a new sound. However, over time, it became a cheap visual shortcut for the authors of any marginalized or underrepresented groups, and helped separate this literature from that of straight white CIS authors. This separation is in no one’s interest (except for those who, intentionally or unknowingly, want to maintain a separate and restricted position for what they consider to be “serious” art), and it reduces a large body of experience to one ambiguous sociopolitical genre. You can almost imagine the banned Republicans going through a library and throwing away everything that adheres to the dot formula, arguing that it should corrupt or criticize our current power structures.
Well, a little out of reach. Conservatives aren’t smart enough to break this code, and they’re busy with the challenge Captain Underpants At parent-teacher association meetings. However, we must be able to recognize when a trend has run its course and a conclusion is needed. The incomplete prismatic mold must go – if not for his condescension and laziness, his indifference to the subject and the obvious account of strange familiarity, then for the simple old crime of clichés. It is now common practice that you are better off trying to design your book as a statement against it.
I don’t wish every author a cover as intense and nerve-wracking as the one I got when my novel hit the world, because that would make book shelves just as boring. I’m happy to say that ten years later, I still haven’t seen a cover like it. What I like most to my peers is that each may be packaged with such care, appearing to the reading audience as distinct and worthy of close examination. In writing, you want to immerse yourself in immersion, and when the external image achieves the special and appropriate mood, it is the first thing that catches your eye. Otherwise, our gazes instantly slip, registering more of the same.