We often hear in conversations "Don't judge a book by its cover". Metaphorically it intends to say "you shouldn't prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone". If taken metaphorically, It is a very good advice.However, is it true literally too?
Apparent origin of this Phase goes back to Piqua Democrat, June 1867: "Don't judge a book by its cover, see a man by his cloth, as there is often a good deal of solid worth and superior skill underneath a jacket and yaller pants."
Sure, A cover is an exhibit but, covers are deliberately designed to give a showcase to the content. It is intending to guide you to your next favorite book. I admit more than often it fails to do the trick
There goes in a lot of work into designing a perfect cover for books. The cover is one of the major players in the marketing strategy of a book. Attracting the target readers and drawing attention is crucial for a book's success. From layout, typography, image and color everything is deliberately decided.
Further, in this post, I will analyze some book covers. If you are spoiler sensitive, I would take this opportunity to inform you that it may contain spoilers.
The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger
On a closer look, the cover tells a lot about content. This cover has a rather, plain typography and a quaint color scheme. It is aesthetically pleasing and looks even better as the book ages. My copy of The Cather in Rye had another cover. However, this cover bewildered me. Initially, I was presuming it to be a depiction of Horse from the advertisement of "Pencey Prep". I wondered where was the "hotshot guy on a horse" as mentioned in the book. I couldn't understand. Then after looking closely, I realized it is a Carrousel. J.D.Salinger does it again, subliminal symbolism. Carrousel in this book represents Holden's (The protagonist) "Happy Place". The Cover is limning the part in the book where Holden looks at the Carrousel and narrates.
"Then the carousel started ... All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."
The cover depicts the moment of one of the literature's iconic denouement. As the narration proceeds, Holden expresses his feelings.
"I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy if you want to know the truth. I don't know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could've been there."
Holden wishes the readers could be there and the cover of the book indeed attempts to take us there... Isn't it a beautiful idea?
The protagonist in this book is a Wallflower: a person who from shyness or unpopularity remains on the sidelines of a social activity (as a dance). This cover personifies this definition. While the background is flashy green, subject/ imagery is dull and sided. Pretty much like Charlie's (Protagonist) character preferred to be. In a similar way, the sided image is yet more complicated and profound than the flashy green background. Charlie, in the book, has a knack to analyze things from a unique point of view, this is very thoughtfully indicated on the cover.
The picture selected is also very interesting, Old-timey and soft color scheme displaying a young boy. The lack of a face is interesting as it makes one curious, yet the pose expresses young adult-ish disquiet. It indicates, yet not explicitly, that sexuality is to be exploration. Moreover, the frame of indicated sexuality is rather slavish and scary.
Lastly, I will discuss the dilemma of designing the cover of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. There have been numerous covers of the same, many of which puts Lolita in an explicitly sexualized way. Which is unfair to project as it validifies Humbert's opinion on lolita being corrupt, but is not evident to be true. Humbert is the notoriously unreliable narrator and the novel gives a little narrative of what Lolita is personally like. The way Humbert's prose sells a sexual image of lolita is brilliant but his motive is to free himself from the judging eyes of the readers.
This design problem is explored in a book Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl. Out of many covers designed so far (some brilliant and others corny)
I have Included few covers that I like in this post.These covers look innocent yet reflect the sexual nature of the book in a subliminal manner. That I find smart as a whip.
To read the rules employed in a book cover design visit here.
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