By Cornelia Yesterday I got sent a jpeg of the proposed cover for my next book, which I think is wonderfully spooky and PRETTY, in a dark angsty kind of way. It got me thinking about what I like and don't like in book covers. Two of my favorites ever were designed for novels by Darcey Steinke, which is cool because I like Darcey so much (we were on junior year abroad programs in Ireland together in 1983--me in Dublin, Darcey in Cork). Here's the cover of her first novel, Suicide Blonde: And here is the one for Milk: And here is Darcey herself, equally great looking: Here are some covers I found at a fantastic website dedicated to the art thereof: Roz Chast and Stella Gibbons, two great tastes that taste great together....
Designer: Roz Chast title: Cold Comfort Farm author: Stella Gibbons publisher: Penguin Classics, 2006 available at
This one I think plays wonderfully on traditional illustration connected to the subject matter, plus which the red is just so sumptuously perfect:
Designer: Mark Melnick title: Chance author: Amir D. Aczel publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2004 available at
And speaking of sumptuous, this is one of the most slyly erotic covers I think I've ever run across:
Designer: Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich title: Eat Me author: Linda Jaivin publisher: Broadway, 1998 available at
Though this is a close second, and perfect for the subject matter:
Designer: Jasmine Lee title: History Lesson for Girls author: Aurelie Sheehan publisher: Viking Adult, 2006 available at
This one is a great update, don't you think?:
Designer: Gregg Kulick Illustrator: Gregg Kulick title: Brave New World author: Aldous Huxley publisher: Harper Perennial, 2006 available at
This one is just plain beautiful, to me:
Designer: Charlotte Strick title: The Noodle Maker: A Novel author: Ma Jian publisher: Picador, 2006 available at
Here's one I love not so much, especially since the short film on which it's based is so iconic:
Designer: Brian Barth title: Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business author: David Mamet publisher: Pantheon, 2007 available at
The film in question:
Couldn't they at least have added this: plus this?: Some of the most memorable covers ever are from children's books I've known and loved: N.C. Wyeth's paintings for Scribner's are particularly gorgeous. And there are many other Scribner's dust jackets I think were beautifully and thoughtfully designed: This one was published in 1934. This one was published in 1960, and is probably the worst design I've ever seen for a book. Can you imagine anything LESS evocative of The Great Gatsby?: I looks like something out of an SRA reader nightmare. What were they thinking in 1960? Makes me kind of happy someone discovered LSD. And then sometimes it's not the dust jacket which is the most beautiful thing about a book, but the cover beneath. I love the blue of this, the gold, the design of the type itself: It reminds me of my very favorite kitschy painting:
Maxfield Parrish, "Stars," 1926
Just remember, though, as Bo Diddley said, you can't judge a book by looking at the...
What are your favorite covers? Which ones do you remember best from your childhood?

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Comment by Cornelia Read on April 9, 2007 at 6:21am
Thank you, Jennifer! I'm really liking it a lot. I keep opening up the jpeg file so I can sneak little peaks at it....
Comment by Jennifer McMahon on April 9, 2007 at 5:30am
I love the new cover and the title as well, Cornelia. Very compelling...
Comment by Cornelia Read on April 6, 2007 at 5:05am
Cheap rocks. And Dude Patrick, the phrase "uglier than a hatful of assholes" rocks DOUBLE. OMFG I'm glad I didn't have even half-a-mouthful of beverage when I read that.......

David, thank you. And I continue to be fascinated with your avatar illustration-- so very disturbingly Ralph-Steadman-meets-Calvin-&-Hobbes-apres-all-three-have-been-mistakenly-refused-egress-during-visitors'-day-on-the-locked-ward-in-rural-North-Dakota looking.
Comment by David Terrenoire on April 6, 2007 at 12:44am
I love the new cover, Cornelia.
Comment by Cornelia Read on April 5, 2007 at 2:27pm
Patrick, I'm just not a "mid-century" person, design-wise. I appreciate a nice plain cover,especially if it's cheap and I have to buy the book for school or something, but I'm REALLY happy I never saw another one of those except for Gatsby.

And Patricia, THANK YOU!!
Comment by Patricia on April 5, 2007 at 2:00pm
of course I should have said the title is also great
Comment by Cornelia Read on April 5, 2007 at 12:41pm
If I could change one thing about my cover, though, I think I'd pick up the dark red from the CHANCE cover and use that as the color of the title font on mine.

And in post-Laura Lippman Appreciation Day news, they cribbed some nice words from her blurb for my last book and put them in the upper right, with the attribution "Laura Lippman, New York Times Bestselling Author," which is pretty damn cool. Unfortunately, it doesn't show up in this version of the jpeg, maybe because of the smaller size?
Comment by Cornelia Read on April 5, 2007 at 12:37pm
Karen and Tribe and Quality (can we call you Qual for short?) and Patricia and Naomi, THANK YOU!

Daniel, I totally dig the other cover by the horsie chick, too. Wonder if it's the same designer.

Marianne over at the Naked Authors blog commented that there isn't too much original artwork to be seen among these, mostly "design," which I think is a great point. That's a big point in favor of the Hard Case Crime covers. I also really dig the original artwork on Megan Abbott's THE SONG IS YOU and on Tim Maleeny's STEALING THE DRAGON. Both of which I should've put into this post. (and thank you, Daniel, for liking the CRAZY cover, too...)

I'm kind of amazed they stuck with the title. It was the first one I thought of, and I was just thinking of it as a place-holder until they inevitably renamed the thing. It's really grown on me.
Comment by Daniel Hatadi on April 5, 2007 at 11:57am
What I really meant to say was: FANTASTIC COVER!

There. That's better.
Comment by QualityBookReviews on April 5, 2007 at 11:45am
The cover is very enticing, Cornelia. I would pick it up based soley on the cover.

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