I went to a very interesting talk about book covers at the Ennis Bookclub Festival recently…yes, I am officially a massive nerd. I’ve previously written about my reading addiction and how much I love the library, so this revelation ain’t shockin’ anyone.
Moving swiftly on, the presentation, ‘Judging a book by its cover’ by John McMonagle was entertaining, as well as informative. As a graphic designer, he had some dos and don’ts of book cover design and took listeners through some of his favourites and what he felt were bad examples. Did you know a red cover apparently makes a book more saleable?
John also mentioned a few websites/artists, which are worth a look. Firstly, Book Cover Archive has some a great stuff on it. It will really make you appreciate the art that is so commonplace and all around- on coffee tables, propping up furniture, teetering in dangerously leaning piles etc.
Cover Spy is a blog/website where book lovers report what covers they see readers perusing on public transport in the US and describe the people too. It’s seriously voyeuristic. I’d love to see an Irish version.
Nina Katchadourian is an artist and one of her projects is ‘Sorted Books’ where she finds books in a certain place etc and makes short poems out of arranging the spines in a certain way. The results are very clever (below).
Another artist who uses books as inspiration is Jane Mount who makes paintings/illustrations out of imagined bookshelves. She illustrated a book, My Ideal Bookshelf, featuring bookshelves of great thinkers and artists etc. Some people say you are what you read. I have a big shelf just for my Stephen King volumes so answers on a postcard on what that says about me.
John mentioned a few famous designers including Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich and he also uses typefaces to illustrate work, which is quite cool and very effective (see right).
I gather the festival was a success and when I grow up, I want to be in a book club.
All this book talk made something random pop into my head—‘The Boobs Song’ by Priscilla Ahn. It involves a hilarious anecdote about snooping on someone’s bookshelves…and kazoo solos. I mean what more could you want?!
PS: For all book/writing/poetry/theatre fans out there, the Cúirt International Literature Festival is on in Galway from April 8-13. I’ve been before (mostly for the theatre aspect) and it’s a bit of craic.