Monday, 26 April 2010

Revolutionary Fabers

In June, Faber is repackaging eight of their back catalogue under the heading 'Revolutionary Writing'. It seems a pretty broad and arbitrary name for what seems to be a random book from each of their top-selling writers. Here are the covers so far available (two more in the series--Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance and David Peace's GB84--don't yet have covers).

I quite like the Auster and James covers (though neither book is that great*), and the Foden and Kureishis anren't bad. Overall, though, these just don't seem revolutionary enough.

* James's The Children of Men is an excellent example of the Godfather syndrome: great books often make mediocre movies, but mediocre books can make for great films.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Steinbeck Unfortunates

As much as I have enjoyed most of John Steinbeck's work, I have to say that his To a God Unknown was not much good. It seemed to be Steinbeck channeling D. H. Lawrence, combining the worst aspects of both writers. However, I did enjoy this cover, which was recently included in an ABE mailout.

Lust for land?

Even better is this Corgi cover, which appears to show a young lady experimenting with urinating while standing up.

Here are a few more pulpy Steinbeck covers.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Liselotte Watkins's Wildes

Penguin UK have just published a set of five books by Oscar Wilde: his sole novel, a collection of his verse, a collection of his stories, a collection of his essays and, instead of a collection of his plays (the obvious fifth volume, I would have thought), a collection of his aphorisms and other sayings*.

The books are designed by Stefanie Posavec, with illustrations of sinister and decadent young 1890s men supplied by fashion artist Liselotte Watkins. They make use of an appropriate colour scheme of purples, yellow-browns and blues, and they look really good. Click for bigger versions.

* This aphorisms collection has had a weird longevity for something originally published as a cash-in for the Stephen Fry-starring movie about Oscar Wilde from 1997: the book has been in print for the whole of the 13 intervening years, in several editions.

Live Nude Emily Dickinson

Having stumbled across another book cover design blog (Book Covers Anonymous), I was especially taken with this cover (designer unknown, but published by Norton in the US)...

UPDATE: The designer is Gabriele Wilson, and there's a collection of her work here. I realise now that I was already a fan of her work, having bought Barry Lopez's Resistance on the strength of her cover design.

It also reminded me of the title of this rather less interestingly covered book of poetry, from Picador...

Coincidentally, I was recently designing some invitations to a poetry event, and this is the graphic I went with...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Vintage Love Film

In August, Vintage UK are doing some repackaging of their own: a number of books which have been made into famous films are being rereleased with unusual, text-only covers that exclude the author names and barely include the book titles. (I'm missing at least two--the covers for Brighton Rock and Cathc-22 haven't leaked out yet.)

I like these, for the most part, though it seems a bit insulting to exclude the author. However, it's hardly the first time a writer would be fucked over in a Hollywood context. A couple of the choices are a bit odd, though. Atonement was hardly a classic film (Keira Knightley in the green dress was a plus, but the maddening way that the the litte girl who grew up to become Vanessa Redgrave had exactly the same haircut for her entire life, so you could tell that the various actresses were playing the same character, was one of many maddening elements), and if this Alice is riding on the back of the Tim Burton version, well...

Repackaging Fitzgerald

Penguin repackages F Scott Fitzgerald at an ever-increasing rate. Coming in October are six of his books as a set of hardcovers, with subdued era-appropriate dustjackets. I don't have the designer information as yet. What do you think?

UPDATE: The designer is the brilliant Coralie Bickford-Smith, who I interviewed here. The covers will be printed on metal foil, giving them a gorgeous 1920s Art Deco look. Beautiful!

For comparison, here are the first of Vintage US's Fitzgerald reissues.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pretty Comics

Just a bunch of comics covers, of books to be released this year, inspired by these beauties from Eddie Campbell...

..and Jason.

As I've said before, graphic novel cover design is unusual, in that the creators of the book more often than not get to design the book, too: many writers of pure text would wish they could do the same, I'm sure.

Here are some more that caught my eye.

The titleless cover with the skull and the White House is Mike Huddlestone's The Homeland Directive.

Monday, 12 April 2010

...and speaking of Borges

Following on from yesterday's Borges covers, here's a collection of his writings in the upcoming fifth set of Penguin Great Ideas.

And here's another from the series, Charles Baudelaire.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Ben Wiseman on Borges

When I was a child I was obsessed with monsters, an obsession fuelled by avid watching of Doctor Who and various child-friendly versions of the Greek myths. My Bible at the time was the Usborne Book of Monsters. And then, when I was about 12 or so, a great-uncle gave me a copy of Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings, with Peter Goodfellow's Bosch-y cover painting. It blew my tiny mind, because it wasn't just an encyclopaedia of monsters, but was funny and clever and inventive at the same time--a collection of stories disguised as a reference book. It got me hooked on Borges well before I could understand more than a fraction of what he wrote about.

Cut to last week, when I got copies of two collections of Borges' poetry: Poems of the Night and The Sonnets. They're beautiful collections, made even more so by the covers designed by Ben Wiseman.

Three collections of Borges' essays are also due soon from Penguin, with more Wiseman covers.

Wiseman has produced a number of other great covers for a variety of publishers. Here are some of my favourites, starting with three elegant Chekhovs.