Saturday, 15 August 2009
Cover to cover
I had a long telephone conversation with Helen Szirtes today about the amendments to The Dead of Winter. We were doing the last bit of tweaking before it goes off to be proofed. As I have said before - this is such an important stage in the life of a book. It is vital to have a good working relationship with your editor and vital also that you take this part seriously.
Inevitably we occasionally wandered off piste and during one such diversion I was pointing out that we seem to me to be in a real high point of paperback book jacket design in this country - which was certainly not the case a few years ago. I could chose lots of publishers to illustrate this, but I am going to pick on Vintage (part of the Random House empire).
Look at the wit and spark these covers have. Doesn't it make you want to buy the lot? More importantly, doesn't it make you want to read the lot? Go into a book shop and browse the fiction section and you will see jackets as good as these or better.
But you will need to be in the adult fiction section.
I know that these books would not work for children. They are too knowing of their subjects. They are almost in jokes, relying on the purchaser to have some prior knowledge of the book. They are books designed to be re-read. The Frankenstein cover for instance would be baffling to anyone who thinks they know the story but have not actually read the book.
But isn't the wit and the ingenuity of design transferable? Do children's books have to be quite so obvious?