Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Spotting 2: More great covers in the Biblioasis shop

It seems as though every time I walk into the Biblioasis storefront, I get sidetracked from my task at hand by my need to examine some new book cover or layout. Useful when my task at hand is to grab a cookie or a chocolate. Perhaps not so useful when I can no longer remember what it was I was supposed to pack up for the mail run.

Given my inability to resist an attractive book cover, I've come up with a few more recent favourites to share with our Bibliofriends, all of which are, at the time of writing, available for purchase in the shop (so stop by and pick one up would you?)

 May Day by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Art of the Novella Series, Melville House Books, 2009)

A couple books in this series came in a little while ago (the other was Joyce's The Dead, same format but an attractive grey background instead of pink) and I was struck by the clean simplicity of the design and the quality of the execution. This is the kind of design that makes people want to re-buy books they already own, just to have the matching set. It's not enough for a series just to match; they have to be interesting and beautiful as well, and this set accomplishes that as far as I'm concerned. In fact, there are 43 books to date in the Art of the Novella collection, all with the same basic typesetting and layout, but each with a striking different colour, and I imagine they'd all look quite nice lined up together on a bookshelf.

 In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe (The Dial Press, 2012)

While I haven't read Roiphe and most of what I've read of her has been the controversies around her work in the '90s, I can't deny the appeal of the cover of her latest book In Praise of Messy Lives. It reminds me a lot of another book cover I love, loneliness by John T. Cacioppo & William Patrick. While Norton may have done it before Dial, the shifting of the dots on the letter "i" is subtle and quite lovely. I admit, I like typographic covers. I like minimal designs. And reflecting "messy" in slightly misplacing the dots on the letter "i" on a book cover is a messy I can get behind. Changing the colour of the dot on "Lives" is a nice touch as well.

Straight Razor and Other Poems by Salvatore Ala (Biblioasis, 2004)

I remember seeing this title at Windsor's BookFest years back and thinking it was the most attractive book being sold. Amongst hundreds of others, this one stood out, and for good reason. Yes, I know it's a Biblioasis book so of course I'm going to praise it, but in the spirit of full disclosure, this book came out eight years before I joined the staff so I think my assessment of it still counts. Classic type treatment, crisp white background, a well-photographed image that is striking all on its own and a hint of shadow (no, not the shadows from my poor photographing of the cover, the shadows on the razor), to give the image depth. To this day this is one of my favourite Biblioasis covers.

Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough: The Medical Lives of Famous Writers 
by John J. Ross, M.D. (St. Martin's Press, 2012) 

Finally, this book has a bunch of design elements that I think are really working. The silhouettes, especially the more recognizable one of Shakespeare at the top are clean looking and give the book a contemporary yet traditional feeling. The bright orangey colour, contrasted with sparse black and white and a touch of teal on the subtitle catches the eye and is a bit unexpected. The handwritten typeface surprises me, because usually I can't stand script fonts. This one is somewhere between a schoolroom handwriting type and a more formal script, and coupled with the lines from Shakespeare's quill, it makes sense. Orwell coughing up typewriter letters (they're tiny, I know, and hard to see, but they are typewriter letters) is fantastic, tying the body into the writing process in a physical way. Great idea. Finally, possibly my favourite aspect of this cover is the way the designer incorporated the subtitle and author's name onto a file folder. It's subtle, it's clean (see a trend happening here with my design-related praise?) and it's a clever way to add some contrast and make this text stand out without having people wonder, why is there a stripe down there for no reason? 

More beautiful books to come in the next installment of Book Spotting. 
Feel free to comment with your favourite designs!

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