(Continued from the last post)
5: Underbelly by John Silvester and Andrew Rule
The true-crime account of Melbourne's ongoing gangland wars, waged by apparently moronic criminals intent on wiping each other out. This was recently a hugely successful TV series with lots of violence and lashings of nudity. Hence this cover, which puts this book into the weird genre of non-fiction accounts with fictional versions of the protagonists on the covers: see, for example, the memoirs of Iris Murdoch which feature Judi Dench and Kate Winslet, or the Truman Capote biography with Philip Seymour Hoffman on the cover. Very odd, when you think about it.
4: Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
When I worked in a bookshop, my boss described Jodi Picoult's books as being novels for people who don't like to read. Though that's probably a bit unfair, they're not much good. Nor is this dull-as-dishwater cover. It looks like a paracetamol ad. More interesting is that Picoult recently did a short-lived stint as writer on the Wonder Woman comic, Wonder Woman being a character created by the deeply odd psychologist William Moulton Marston, "polyamorist", co-inventor of the lie-detecting polygraph machine, and bondage enthusiast (see almost any issue of the comic which he wrote).
3: Breath by Tim Winton
Holy shit--a genuine work of literature by a genuinely good writer, with an attractive cover. What's it doing on the bestseller list? Excuse me while I fall off my chair.
2: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The publisher Penguin get a lot of raves on this blog for their classics line and many of their cover designs. On the other hand, they do publish some real, Z-grade raw sewage. This mimsy, Oprah-hawked self-help cod-philosophy book does its best to ride on the coat-tails of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in the promo material, which conveniently ignores the fact that it's exactly the sort of self-obsessed, it's-all-about-me, blinkered mindset that books like this inculcate which has helped contribute to the hideous state of the world we are now dealing with. The leaf skeleton on the cover does indicate the threadbare nature of this book's contents, though I suspect that was not the designer's intention. Go and read some Emerson or some Thoreau, you Oprah-addled numbnuts!
1: 4 Ingredients by Kim McCosker and Rachael Berminngham
My wife's impressive collection of food books attests to the huge leaps that food photography and cookbook design have made in the last couple of decades. There are many, many genuinely gorgeous books in this field. But sometimes a publisher decides, "Fuck it, let's go for the boring, the obvious, the uninspired!" And the book becomes a number-one bestseller, thus showing that all the design brilliance in the world appears to mean fuck-all to the average book-buying punter.