Saturday 31 July 2010

Beginner's Guide

This is just a quick introduction for the big influx of new visitors, thanks to Google's Blogs of Note thing. If you're wondering what this is all about, the intro is here. For some other stuff I hope you'll find interesting, try...

And here's a cover for a book that never was:


Wednesday 28 July 2010

1 Artist, 1 Model, 5 Paintings, 24 Covers

The Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) is most celebrated for his series of interior paintings, many of which featured his wife, Ida, seen from behind. Cold, spare, quiet and intriguing, they are the perfect representation of a certain gloomy domesticity. They are also very frequently used on book covers.

Here are just five of the paintings, spread over 24 books. I've left out of this selection any books that are specifically about Hammershøi himself.

'Interior, Strandgade 30'

'Interior with Woman at Piano, Strandgade 30'

'Interior, Strandgade 30'

'Interior with Young Woman from Behind'

'In a Room with a Piano and a Woman in Black'


And, just for interest, here's Ida herself, looking forward for once.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Eric Hanson

I was looking at an intriguing book, and realised that its author is also a talented illustrator who has several book covers to his credit.

Most recently, Eric Hanson provided the wonderful cover for John Waters' autobiography. As always, I'm a fan of books like this that don't make use of a boring photographic portrait on the front.

Other Hanson work...

(That's Baby Leg by Brian Evenson, from Tyrant Books)

Eric's blog, full of his illustration work, is here. I like his style: to me, his work sits at the third corner of a triangle, the other two corners of which are Quentin Blake and funky old jazz album covers.

UPDATE: Eric himself added some useful info in the comments, which I'll append here: "Waters is a real mensch, very nice to work with. Susan Mitchell, the art director at FSG deserves much of the credit for how great it looks, but it was Waters who insisted on using the pencil sketch instead of the painting I did from it. It made all the difference. I recently did an interview on the Faceout Books blog about the process. I'm also flattered that you enjoyed the book that I wrote, A Book of Ages. It was fun to write, and Whitney Cookman, my art director at Random House, was nice enough to use my illustration on the cover as well.
My first book covers were the icons I did for the Chic Simple books published by Knopf in the '90s. Art directed by Robert Valentine."

Thursday 22 July 2010

Living Safely

Another changed cover here, but I'm not sure which will be the final version. Different online shops at different times have offered the following covers for Charles Yu's intriguing-sounding How to Live Safely in aScience Fictional Universe.

The first cover is by John Gall, but I don't know if he created the other one. I prefer the first--it's less obvious and more freaky--though I do like the other (the dog is what makes it work, I think).

UPDATE: A wise commenter has directed me to photos of people holding up signs with the second cover and the words 'Now with new jacket' printed on them, so I'm guessing that resolves that question!

Wednesday 21 July 2010


Another (RED) cover, nailing it yet again... (designer as yet unknown)

(Click for much bigger version)

Monday 19 July 2010

Before & Afters Addendum with Crabs

A different kind of cover change takes place when, at the last minute, someone gets nervous about being sued and calls in the Photoshoppers. Here are the before and after versions of a pleasantly lightweight, reasonably amusing book about awful books which I'm reading at the moment.

Someone must have been afraid that Guy N. Smith, author of the famously awful Crabs novels, might call in the lawyers. For your edification, here are the best covers of the six Crabs books. Tremble!

Before & Afters

I've talked before about the way some books change appearance between announcement and publication. I suspect this happens more and more these days, as internet bookselling tends to demand some sort of image as a placeholder for people pre-ordering the books.

I thought it would be interesting to look at three new or imminent NYRB Classics, and at the covers they were originally promoted with compared with those they qwere finally given. In one case, the title even changed. For each of the three books below, the first cover is the original image and the second is the final, published (and, in the end, more appropriate) version. All NYRBs are designed by Katy Homans.

For the Cossery and Simenons, the now-unused first images are rather intriguing in their own right. However, since they weren't used, I can't find the source information.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Ryohei Yanagihara

Spotted at This Isn't Happiness, from Kitsune Noir: the 1960s and 1970s book cover design of Ryohei Yanagihar.

Inspired by this, I hunted around and found quite a few more of his book designs. As to what these books are, and who they're by, I'm at the mercy of online translation engines, so I'll just let the art speak for itself.