Designing books may seem a relatively easy and not very important task but actually merging an idea for a design with a book’s meaning is a massive challenge.
Charles (Chip) Kidd, is not only a famous award-winning American graphic designer but also a writer, a musician, an editor, a book designer and a lecturer who lives in New York. He presented his ideas and opinions in two TED talks and in various interviews which have been seen by millions of viewers world-wide. He is probably one of the most famous book-cover designers.
When asked during an interview whether he judges books by their covers. He responded wittily: “No, I judge covers by their covers.”
Kidd stresses that a book cover is vital because that is the first thing people see while deciding if they want to buy a book or not. In one of his TED talks Kidd quickly persuaded an audience how first impressions truly matter when he started his speech with “a full body wriggle” to draw people’s attention. Kidd advises other designers to trust their intuition but to remember that covers cannot be obvious:
“When I’m working on a cover for a book called ‘City on Fire,’ I’m not going to show a city on fire. It’s like going back to drawing an apple and writing the word ‘apple,’ underneath, you don’t need both.”
When a designer reads a book, he needs to think how he translates the main message and the meaning of the book. Designing jackets is somewhat like capturing something intangible that is embraced by the writer’s words, things that readers need to imagine, and transferring it to a more tangible idea, a picture, a meaningful design.
One of his most famous projects was a book-cover design for a science-fiction novel, Jurassic Park, written in 1990 by Michael Crichton (the book Spielberg adapted in 1993 into a legendary film with the same title). While thinking of the design, Kidd decided to learn more about dinosaurs, and to see different pictures, models and expositions in the National History Museum in his city.
He was thrilled when he found out that the right to the image was bought and used by MCA Universal for the famous movie with the same title.
Jurassic Park is only one out of over 1,000 book covers that Kidd is responsible for.
Have you ever bought a book because you liked the cover; or vice versa, have you ever decided not to buy a book because you didn’t find the cover attractive?
What sorts of book covers do you like most?