Monday, November 15, 2010

Books, covers

Colleen Mondor throws down the gauntlet! Her beef is with the cover of The Explosionist - here's the link to the underlying cover contest at Bookshelves of Doom, which challenges readers to produce new cover art for a handful of books (including mine) whose covers were too "generic and girly" for teenage boys to be seen reading them!

I don't have strong opinions on covers myself, having read some huge proportion of the total number of books consumed in my life in library bindings. But it is true, the covers for The Explosionist and Invisible Things haven't been what I initially imagined.

The mental picture I had before the first book was ever accepted for publication was something more like the amazing Prokhudin-Gorskii photographic archive (the pictures are from Russia c. 1900, but taken with an unusual and uncanny color process that makes them really like nothing else on earth - you get the feel of it with the one I've included here):

I like the misty colors on the cover of Piers Vitebsky's superb book The Reindeer People:

I guess that without really thinking about it (I am not a visual person) I imagined a cover built around something like the old photos of Edinburgh buildings and street scenes - something more like this - capturing the panoramic feel of the city, and its vertical range...


  1. I remember finishing The Explosionist and being quite annoyed that the cover girl looked nothing like Sophie, before you even get to lipstick issues, etc.

  2. I have to say, I tempted. The problem with many books today is that the designers don't read the book (!) Really, how can one represent the soul of a story without experiencing the story? Then again, another trend in books is for the editor to design the cover using stock photographs and whatever common type is on their PC. I suppose that means they have read the book....