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Book Covers

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
...no matter how much we say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," people who have no idea what a book is about will, in fact, start forming opinions about a book even before they touch it.
In "Ugly Philippine Book Covers," Jules writes,
Besides the fact that many Filipinos do not read local fiction (in book form) for the sheer pleasure of it, another factor that scares away potential readers is the very ugly and uninspired covers that adorn perhaps 95% of local books.
He then proceeds to skewer publishers and graphic designers, complete with examples of good and bad book covers and acid commentary. He cites the cover of Dean Alfar's Salamanca as an example of a bad cover, and says that it "lacks inspiration and clarity and looks as if it was just made overnight." To understand a bit more about how book covers are decided upon, take a look at Alfar's update on "the road of publication," where he posts an early cover and writes that, "ultimately the cover is just a cover, and what matters is the content."

While I disagree with some of Jules's examples of good covers (e.g., the Noli and Fili covers may look good but the text is hard to read) and the US-Pinoy comparisons that tend to turn people off, he's actually right about the paper ("Toilet paper has a better consistency than some of the Philippine publications I’ve seen"), and the fact that lack of money is not an excuse ("...many local book covers are printed in FULL color which means they have little reason to curtail on the artistic expression of a graphic artist").

There are a few good cover designers working in the Philippines that I know about. There's Robert Alejandro, who has designed coffee table and children's book covers; Lambert Alfonso, who turned a title like Episcopal Collegiality and Vatican II into a cover that contributed to increased sales; and Ulysses Navarro (It is the Lord! and Beyond the Physical), who worked with authors' ideas and a small budget to produce stylish covers for not-very-commercial publications. Disclosure: I was the book producer for the covers that Alfonso and Navarro designed.

If you know of other good graphic designers, please leave a comment below. And if you'd like to say something about how book covers can be used to discuss the image of libraries and librarians, be my guest =)

Category: Books and Movies

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