Oooh! I'm doing it! It's
|The cover of Cover. Heh.|
Sooo... when you gave this to me, I didn't realize/understand that it's a retrospective of one cover artist's work. (A mid-career retrospective, at that -- he's only been doing it for 11 years!) I guess I thought it was about different book covers by different people. But it's not -- it's one super prolific designer. Who... got into this gig as a second career after being a professional musician for over a decade. Whoa. ("What am I doing with my life?" is a quick flashing thought there, I gotta admit. And then I remember... paying bills. Oh yeah.)
Anywho... I really enjoyed this book. I especially loved the fact that it shows many "rejected" book cover designs and it really breaks down the process of book cover design in a way that makes me think even more about book covers than I did before (didn't think that was possible).
The first part of the design process is about reading, as shown in this pull quote from the introduction by Tom McCarthy, who's book, C is one of the covers in Cover:
this great interview with Mendelsund and McCarthy with a far more detailed explanation of the book cover design process (that's a good read, if you've got some time.) (And a good "scan," if you don't!)
Arguably, Mendelsund's most well-known work is the cover of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo:
I actually prefer the more subdued color in the bottom right version and it sort of sounds like Mendelsund did, as well, but... the bright colors won out.
He also designed the other two books in the series, including The Girl Who Played With Fire:
Which was created from an actual photocopy of his daughter's hair:
Cool, right? (Aaand... what a cool claim to fame for that girl.)
This double-page spread is fantastic -- showing all rejected covers for one book:
And here's a great demonstration of the iterative process -- look how many covers he goes through for this book:
Ultimately, he didn't use any of these and, most noticeably, changed from that serif font to a sans serif one: here's the final hardcover version. And the paperback, which is the same image, but with some color.
While I was looking for that final version (it's not in the book, which I found odd), I discovered a really cool five minute video interviewing a bunch of different cover designers who describe their process for design (including All That Is).
He's done a lot of covers I have never seen before. Outside of the Stieg Larsson books, I think this one is the most recognizable to me -- I've never read this book, but I really like this cover:
And finally... you do have a copy of this edition of Ulysses, right? Because this design is inspired -- love the YES:
And, in fact, he discusses that design it in this interview, as well as his dislike for The Great Gatsby cover, which I also dislike. Mostly because people say that the eyes are those of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, but I don't think they are -- where are the glasses, people?! Instead, I've always thought that the eyes were Daisy's, as described in this passage:
Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs, and so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms.  [emphasis mine](Interested in this discussion? Here's an article about it.) Taken as Daisy's eyes -- not Eckleburg's -- I am fine with the design. But the Eckleburg interpretation is annoying to me. Just put a green light on the cover of the damned thing and be done with it.
Aaand... I gotta wrap this up! I could go on and on about this book, but the final verdict is: Good stuff! Thank you so much for giving it to me -- a worthy perusal.