Harry Potter and the Penguin Classic

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M.S Corley, a freelance cover designer, redrew the covers of all the Harry Potter novels as Penguin Classics. They’re pretty cool.

Here are the rest.

On judging books by their covers…

Also on the subject of reading, and also from Andy Unedited, comes this insight into book cover design, from the horse’s mouth so to speak…

Every genre of book has a code—a visual set of criteria that readers instinctively expect to find represented on the cover. We expect brightly colored illustrations for children’s books. We expect large-block type (probably embossed) on the covers of political thrillers. We expect restrained sophistication on academic books. And we all know what the cover code is for a biography—a prominent head-and-shoulders photograph or painting of the person who is its subject.

I noticed this the other day when a couple of the books I was reading on Roman history (for an essay) from different publishers had essentially the same cover. Maroon blocks, serif font in cream (Timesish), and a the use of some first century art (or artistic representation) as a hero image… I don’t know what genre that is specific to…

I can’t remember what the second one was… but it wasn’t this one…

Or this one (though I did use this one)…

IVP publisher Andy Le Peau says the key to cracking the market is twofold:
1. Keeping the aforementioned “code”
2. Positioning.

Here’s what he says about positioning:

“But if a cover looks like every other book of its type, won’t it get lost? That’s where positioning comes in. The book also has to clearly offer something different, something that sets it apart from all the other books in its category.

The trick is to make a cover different but within the confines of the code. That’s what great design does. It’s like writing. Great authors know when to break the rules to make their piece even more powerful, to make it stand out. But they don’t break the rules so much that the book falls completely out of its category.”

Speaking of book covers – here’s a time lapse of one being put together.