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With the increasing popularity of e-Books and e-Readers, the landscape of publishing is evolving rapidly. For me, personally, e-Readers will never be able to replace the unique relationship a reader has with a real book – the touch, smell, weight and individual design. There’s something to relish about cracking the spine of a new book (or in my case, avoiding it for as long as possible). Each coffee stain and dog-eared page tells a story of the reader’s experience during their read, a reminder of where the book has travelled with them.

Publishers are now being pushed towards creating innovative book designs that become desirable objects in themselves. In Julian Barnes acceptance speech, at the Man Booker Prize in 2011 for his book “A Sense of an Ending”, he personally praised and thanked the book’s designer Suzanne Dean. “Those of you who’ve seen my book – whatever you may think of its contents – will probably agree that it is a beautiful object. And if the physical book, as we’ve come to call it, is to resist the challenge of the e-book, it has to look like something worth buying and worth keeping.”

I have been known to go into a book shop, looking for a particular book, and then go home empty handed because I’m not so keen on the cover – only pure desperation will provoke me to buy a book with, dare I say it, a cover based on a film or TV adaptation. Such is the importance of a publisher revamping their design every so often in order to appeal to new target audiences.

Whilst the actual experience of reading is a incredibly intimate and individual, a book cover can share something of this moment with those around you. I can’t help but try and take sneaky peaks at those around on me on the tube to see what they are reading – there’s always a less than insignificant feeling of smugness when it’s something I’ve read. I know where they’ve been escaping to within those pages. It can also act as barometer for what’s popular at that moment, a couple of years ago it was near impossible to step on to any form of public transport and avoid the flash of orange and white from the incredibly iconic design of “One Day” by David Nicholls. But then, given that (rather depressingly) Fifty Shades was the most downloaded book from Amazon in 2012, I suppose the majority of those reading e-Books would rather not let everyone else know what they’re reading.

When a book cover design is truly successful it forms a fundamental part of the reader experience, so intrinsically linked as to the content of the book as to become inseparable in the reader’s mind. Below are some examples of some books which I believe I have achieved this hard task.

To see more, check out our Pinterest board full of brilliant book covers here


1. F.Scott Fitzgerald – Penguin


I can’t pick a favourite from this collection of beautiful Art Deco inspired book covers by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Celebrating the joy of pattern with decadent gold leaf.


2. 1984, George Orwell – Penguin


I love the simplicity and the “I wish I’d thought of that” factor of this inspired cover by David Pearson for Penguin.


3. Burial Rites, Hannah Kent – Picador

This is one of those books, where I couldn’t stop admiring the cover whilst I was reading it. I also have to admit, I bought it solely based on the fact that I liked how it looked. Fortunately, I wasn’t let down, it is a beautiful and haunting read. I would highly recommend it!


4. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt – Little, Brown

With this beautiful book design, one has the feeling of carrying around the stolen artwork featured within the pages of the novel, giving the reader a physical relationship to the story.


5. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy – Pulp! The Classics


An incredibly refreshing and humorous take on the classics by Pulp! The Classics.


6. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury


I love this beautifully designed interpretation and physical manifestation of the horror of burning books in Fahrenheit 451 by the incredibly talented Elizabeth Perez.


7. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstein  – Vintage


Whilst I love the book cover of Erin Morgenstern’s book “The Night Circus” it’s the look and feel of the inner pages that really brings the story to life. Morgenstern is both Artist and writer, and this book was born out of both passions.



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