Wednesday 29 September 2010


When Penguin Classics US published Angela Carter's edition of Charles Perrault's fairy tales (he is responsible for the classic versions of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots, among others), they used an attractive but pretty conventional image for the cover (by John Hassall).

But when Penguin Classics UK published the book, they used something different: a striking photo by New York artist Marilyn Minter.

It's an image ('Stepping Up', 2005) that reveals more over time: at first it just seems to be Cinderella in her glass slippers. But then you see that the feet are spattered with water and mud or shit; like all really good fairy stories, there's both sexiness and murkiness here.

In January, Penguin UK are republishing two more Carter titles: her lush, sexy and strange science-fiction novels Heroes and Villains (an end-of-the-world story) and The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman.

Again, these are great: erotic and creepy in equal measure, like fashion photos from an orgy at the decadent collapse of some technicolour civilisation, where faces turn into molluscs on glass.

For more of Minter's work, see her gallery, Salon 94, here and more here. Or read these Minter monographs:

(The Infernal Desire Machines was also one of the Penguin Decades (see here). For a different style of Angela Carter covers, see Roxanna Bikadoroff's work here.)

With thanks to Alan Trotter for the two newest Angela Carter cover images.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Choose Your Own II

Regarding multiple covers released simultaneously for the same book, Brian Lindenmuth directs me to the new paperback edition of Financial Lives of the Poets (which I really enjoyed when it came out), available in three colours...

..while Sasha notes that Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You (I book I sadly enjoyed rather less than the author's excellent promo website) was also available in a variety of hues.

I apologise for the light posting here recently: work and life are getting in the way. More soon, I promise!

Wednesday 22 September 2010

The Spinet Everywhere

Here's another case of a painting that appears on numerous books (see also here, here, here and here). This time it's 'The Spinet' (1902?), by Thomas Wilmer Dewing.

And here are some of the books, almost all classics, on which it has appeared.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Ruben Toledo II

Last year Penguin got fashion designer Ruben Toledo to do three covers for their Deluxe Classics range. The response amongst commenters here and elsewhere was somewhat equivocal, but obviously they sold well enough, because there are another three coming soon: Dracula, Jane Eyre and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

They're certainly eye-catching, though I'm not sure that I really like any of them. It's also the second time Penguin has recently Deluxed and otherwise gussied up two of these books, having recently had comics artists Dame Darcy and Jae Lee do illustrations for Jane Eyre and Dracula, respectively.

Choose Your Own

Because of what it adds to production costs, the use of multiple covers for the one edition of a book is still pretty unusual. There are a few cases I can think of off-hand: Dirk Wittenborn's Fierce People was available in a male or female version (both animal-headed)...

..while one of Irvine Welsh's awful, awful books got a range of colour choices.

And then there are examples like the Harry Potter books, whereby an 'adult' cover is released at the same time as the children's version, so that grown-ups reading second-rate children's books in public can ineffectually hide their embarrassment.

But with print-on-demand technology, the extra printing cost of having two--or even 10--different covers disappears. Hence this new release from OR Books, which was pointed out to me by Will of the phenomenal A Journey Round My Skull. Each copy is printed as it is ordered, with the buyer's choice of cover.

As I say, there could easily be a choice of more than two. It also ought to be very easy to have a facility whereby buyers design and upload their own covers, whcih would then be printed and bound onto the final book. I don't know of anyone doing this yet, but surely it's only a matter of time.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Lumps & Scabs

Self-publishing is difficult--getting the books onto bookshop shelves is near impossible. And getting a customer to pick up a self-published book is difficult too. You need a really catchy title, and some really striking cover art, especially if you're trying to compete in an already crowded genre like SF/fantasy.

Speaking of crappy graphics, for some reason Blogger has dropped the resolution of the header graphic of this blog, making it look fuzzy and degraded. I don't know why this should have happened, but I'll try to replace it soon and see if it sticks. Not that anyone cares but me, I'm sure, but I feel bad picking on other people's graphic design skills under such a shoddy-looking title.  (UPDATE: Now it's fixed.)

Thursday 9 September 2010

Daniel Justi

Daniel Justi is a Brazilian graphic designer who creates (among other things) bith typefaces and book covers. Unsurprisingly, the use of type on his covers is both strong and effective. Here is some of my favourite work from him, with images stolen from his website.

Monday 6 September 2010

Carla van de Puttelaar on David Herbert Richards Lawrence

When Vintage Classics relaunched itself (for the seond time in what seemed just a few months) in 2007, it was partly with the express purpose of challenging Penguin Classics. What this has mostly meant is that we've got yet another edition of a Jane Austen or a Charles Dickens book that's already available in 3,298,447 editions already. This is a bit of a shame, as Vintage, as part of the vast Random House empire, has access to the copyrights a vast array of amazing literature--the hundreds of now out-of-print books from the Harvill Leopard library alone would be welcome additions to the list.

However, with some of the Vintage Classics which are already available from other publishers, they have done some nice cover work. The upcoming D. H. Lawrences, for example, will make use of the beautiful photographs of Dutch artist Carla van de Puttelaar, a world of pale skin, faint blemishes, blues and blacks.

Van de Puttelaar's work has been collected in a couple of books...

..and used in the past on a number of novels.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Korean Larsson & Last Reds

Two things here: first of all, following up these, here's the Korean version of the first Stieg Larsson book, designed by Turkey-based Anton Khodakovsky, and with the creepy painting (also used on the French edition) by Isabel Samaras.

Secondly, here are the last four covers of the next series of Penguin (RED)s...

..and here are the ones I posted earlier. See here for the first series, and the rationale behind the books.