Staff Picks—Sun Bookshop Favourite Book Covers

The latest in a series of interviews where we ask staff at bookstores to tell us about their favourite book designs. This month we hear from Kate O’Donnell and her colleagues at the Sun Bookshop, 10 Ballarat St, Yarraville.

Kate O’Donnell’s picks

Ickypedia by The Listies (Penguin Random House)
Designed by Bruno Herfst & Richard Higgins

The design of this whole book is something extraordinary, and I know Bruno has written about it for an ABDA blog post. The cover represents the book perfectly – from the green vomit title treatment on the front (with blowfly) to the information-packed back cover that pulls from the internals, preparing the reader for the collage-style illustration style and the wicked sense of humour within. The use of a fluoro green ultra-coat finish on the first edition front cover is slimy-looking and gives a wonderfully icky three-dimensional feel.

(Disclaimer: I was one of the editors who worked on this book.)


Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian (Text Publishing)
Designed by Imogen Stubbs

Claire Christian’s book explores the developing friendship between two teenagers trying to deal with grief and mental illness. Imogen Stubbs’ cover for this one works so well. Not only is the palette pleasing to the eye, but the design represents the story wonderfully. The handwritten ‘scraps’ representing the letters that Ava and Gideon write to one another, and the delicate gold foil running across the cover, like the cracks repaired in the Japanese tradition of Kintsukori/Kintsugi, something that is also explored in the novel.


Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith (Hardie Grant Egmont)
Designed by Emily Gregory
Cover photograph by Simon Clarke 

This is an extraordinary young adult novel by Hilary T Smith, first published in the US. Hardie Grant Egmont’s rejacket surpasses the original, in my opinion. This perfectly-chosen photograph, combined with the beautiful title treatment that calls up music staves curling off and coming apart, perfectly captures the protagonist Kiri Byrd. She’s a Serious Piano Student, whose life unravels when she learns the truth about her sister’s death, sending her spinning through the summer and into nights filled with bike riding and journey into mania. I continue to be so impressed by this cover – it’s both meaningful and aesthetically pleasing.


Vogliamo tutto: the novel of Italy’s hot autumn by Nanni Balestrini (Telephone)
Designed by Warren Taylor (Monash Art, Design and Architecture)

So here’s a book I picked up purely based on the cover, and purchased on the strength of the back cover blurb. Vogliamo tutto (or ‘We want everything’) was originally published in 1971 and tells the story of the 1969 Fiat workers’ strike and the radical activity throughout Europe that followed. The book’s just a white paperback with the title printed on it, but it’s the dust jacket that pulls no punches: it folds out to be a blueprint for the Fiat factory. The red title treatment evokes the posters and art of the student and worker movements of the late ’60s. Bellissimo.


Kate Frawley’s pick

Dark Pines by Will Dean (Bloomsbury)
Design by Mark Swan

It’s such a simple design and from afar is just striking from the black and white contrast. However, when you look a bit closer you can see there is a car, then you see a couple of people, and closer again, bloody footprints leading into the Dark Pines. It’s multi-layered, dark and disturbing – much like the content of the book!


Eadie Allen’s pick

Any book cover designed by Allison Colpoys.