Staff Picks—Readings Bookstore Favourite Book Cover Designs
This is the first in an ongoing series of interviews where we ask staff at bookstores to tell us about their favourite book designs. This month we hear from staff at Readings Bookstores.
Bronte Coates, Readings Digital Content Coordinator:
My favourite book covers are tactile and bold, with clever references to the book’s interior. One of the stand-out covers for me last year was the embossed sinking text of Briohny Doyle’s The Island Will Sink (The Lifted Brow, design by Rosetta Lake Mills).
Briohny Doyle’s The Island Will Sink
I also have a particular fondness for illustrated covers –a design element that I often think is put to good use in Australian books for young readers. The plaid, pleated skirt on the cover of Alice Pung’s Laurinda (Black Inc, design by Peter Long) is both visually arresting and a fitting symbol of what private schooling entails. The swirling text around the young girl holding a guitar on the Astred Hicks cover of Emily Gale’s The Other Side of Summer (Random) is a gentle nod to the magic contained within the story. The three pairs of legs with shoelaces entwined on the cover of Steph Bowe’s Night Swimming (Text, design by Jessica Horrocks) are quirky and endearing, indicating the romantic entanglements to follow.
A striking use of a photograph can also win me over. One of my favourite ever covers is the design for Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (Penguin), which features a 1993 artwork by David Hammons depicting an empty sweatshirt hood against a white background. It’s such a powerful statement, as is the book itself. My favourite cover of this year (so far!) also makes use of a photograph in a powerful way: Jessica Friedmann’s Things That Helped (Scribe, cover design by Allison Colpoys). A photograph of the author herself in spliced in two and oddly juxtaposed against a bordered background, both halves slipping outside the frame. This image seems perfectly apt for the book’s content which explores postpartum depression, motherhood and creativity.
Stella Charls, Readings Marketing and Events Coordinator:
I am very superficial when it comes to buying books, and have been known to pay more to get my hands on a particular edition. I’m sure I’m not alone either – a cover can make a huge difference to the reception and sales of a book. I also love learning about the process of designing a book cover. Linda Huang’s LitHub article on designing the cover for the paperback edition of Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation (Granta) is particularly great.
Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation
Allison Colpoys, the associate art director at Scribe, is hands down my favourite Australian book designer. (She’s also the illustrator of the loveliest picture book, The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade.) I’m also a fan of the work of Imogen Stubbs, art director at Text Publishing, who designed two of my favourite 2016 covers: Jennifer Down’s Our Magic Hour and Leanne Hall’s Iris and the Tiger.
My three favourite Australian covers of 2017, so far are: Rebekah Clarkson’s Barking Dogs (Affirm, cover design by Karen Wallis), Jessica Friedmann’s Things That Helped and Jeff Sparrow’s No Way But This (both from Scribe, covers by Allison Colpoys).
Nina Kenwood, Readings Marketing Manager:
I love the cold, moody feel of the cover of Hannah Kent’s second novel The Good People designed by Sandy Cull (Picador), and the distinctive design by Lisa White of Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things (Allen & Unwin), which captures the danger, the violence and femininity of the novel.
I adore the sense of magic and adventure captured in the cover of A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee (cover art by Elly MacKay, Allen & Unwin), which has been shortlisted for this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize. In recent YA releases I think The Hate U Give (Walker), Night Swimming (Text) and The Sun Is Also A Star (Random, cover design by Dominique Falla) all have striking covers that perfectly suit their content.
Finally, some of my favourite ever Australian covers are the lovely nature-themed designs of the Dorothy Porter poetry books: The Bee Hut, Love Poems (cover designs by Thomas Deverall) and The Best 100 Poems of Dorothy Porter (cover design by Peter Long).