Designing book covers is an art that requires a visionary viewpoint, but also a very pragmatic approach. After all, the end goal is to attract the reader, to make her pick up the book and take it home.There have been books written about cover designs, and there are websites dedicated to them. Printworks, a Chicago art gallery, even celebrated its 30th anniversary last year with an exhibit titled "Cover Stories: The Art of the Book Jacket."
Chip Kidd is probably the most recognized name among American book cover designers. Time magazine recently showcased some of his best covers (click here), with accompanying text that allowed Kidd to describe his creative process. If you've read any blockbuster books in the last few years, you've picked up one of Kidd's designs. The book Dry is one of my favorites.
Books that have entered the the realm of classic literature have gone through many evolutions of cover art. For example, the original cover for Lord of the Flies was a very traditional '50s book jacket, above, which makes sense given its 1954 publication date. Compare that to a whimsical recent edition that seems to me a little too lighthearted for the frightening story, below right. I think the cover that best suits the story is the infamous design with the bloody boar. Scary.
If you happen to live in the UK, you have the opportunity to design your own cover for Lord of the Flies. To celebrate author William Golding's centenary, publisher Faber & Faber is holding a design contest for the next edition's jacket. Entry deadline is Jan. 20 (click here for more information).
How would you reinterpret the classic? Are there any other book covers you would re-do?