Books by their Covers: what do stories look like?

We've all heard that often repeated platitude, "Never judge a book by its cover". And while it is undoubtedly sound advice, echoed in numerous forms and iterations by all of us morally upstanding members of society, the phrase takes on a different meaning when you're a publisher.

Books are our bread and butter, and making them is what puts bread on our teams' collective table. Making books is fun. At times stressful, sure, but most definitely fun. Getting acquainted with the author and what they do, inhabiting their world, and then translating it by design into a refined product with lasting appeal is indeed a daunting task, but we love it. We'd like to think that the time we devote into the smallest of details within each and every page is worth it. That our time and effort is not wasted, that people actually pick up our books up to be absorbed into the carefully curated, considered and created worlds held within its pages, is our dearest wish. 

However, despite the frequency with which we are constantly reminded to reserve our judgements until we have the 'bigger picture', we do not – perhaps even cannot – do so. Books will always be judged by their covers, literally and metaphorically. Not by choice, but by necessity. The act of the snap judgement is for all intents and purposes, immensely useful, but we won't go into the evolutionary psychology behind that. 

Ultimately, what that means is that despite our best efforts in our craft, a book on the shelf will often remain just that; a book on the shelf, unless, upon a chance glance, something on the cover reaches out to grab the imagination or, at the very least, pique the interest of passersby. 

We've heard so many positive things about the covers of the books we've released this year (and thank you sincerely for saying so), that we thought you might like an insight into the process and thinking that underlies the design of a good book cover. Short of inviting each of you along to the studio as we deliberate covers with gusto (these things can get passionately heated!), we think that this surprisingly humourous TED talk sums things up nicely.

Chip Kidd has been designing books for over 25 years, and is the graphic designer behind the iconic Jurassic Park dinosaur logo and some of the most inspired and original book covers to grace the shelves of bookstores all over the world. In this talk, he offers us tons of valuable insights into the world of book design, publishing, and speaks with great fondness of the intimately visceral experience of holding, smelling, feeling and reading a well-designed book.

It goes without saying, we can totally relate.