Attracted by Design

Here at Lerner, we talk a lot about the importance of cover designs in attracting both fiction and nonfiction readers. One of my favorite recent TFCB covers, for example, is Mass Extinction (Discovery! series, cover below).


The cover hits all the key elements of a stylish design: elegance, simplicity, and what fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent referred to as “good grooming.”

image Just this morning I checked my favorite opera blog to see what she had posted: vintage LP  record designs like the one at right. Wow, thought I. These are cool.

image If I were a young listener, and I knew nothing about violinist Jascha Heifetz, would I choose a Heifetz  recording with the wordle-style vintage “violin cloud” cover (above right) or would I go for the more current recording with a cover based on an institutional illustration (above left)?

It’s basically the same question we ask ourselves in publishing just about every day. (And I’d say the answer to the question is the violin cloud image. If you disagree, let me know.) Images draw us in, and  that’s not always a bad thing. Make a list of all the great books you’ve discovered based on cover design alone.

My favorite story along these lines is about my brother choosing a book for my sister’s birthday when he was only five years old (she was a teenager at that point). He and my mother went shopping for the gift, and he pointed to a book with a pony on the cover. He said, “This is the one I want to buy.” Title of the book? The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.

Check in next week for more from TFCB!

[photo credits: top/Lerner website; center/; bottom/]

2 thoughts on “Attracted by Design

  1. Carol Hinz

    I decided to read The Red Pony based on the title and the cover illustration when I was in sixth grade. Terrible idea! I was traumatized, and I vowed to steer clear of anything else Steinbeck had ever written. I still don't like to think about that book!

  2. Domenica Di Piazza

    Luckily for my sister, she LOVED the book and went on to read just about everything Steinbeck ever wrote. He certainly drives straight at the heart, that's for sure.

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