f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 2 of Book Covers: Promise

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Day 2 of Book Covers: Promise

When we talk about covers in-house we talk a lot about the promise they offer a reader. That is, when you as a reader look at a book cover, you feel an implied message about what the book will offer you, and in what manner.

That is: kooky, lime-green covers promise something different from dour charcoal covers.

The problem is who gets to say what a cover’s promise is? And how close does the promise have to hew to what the book actually delivers?

A lot of things tie into these questions. Title can’t be separated from cover, although they’re separate issues. Author name often implies something for those writers who’ve written a second book.

So in the case of the books yesterday, I look at Perez-Reverte and Arthur Phillips books’ much differently than the other two…because I know those authors and what their previous work promises.

If you’re unaware of Phillips, however, The Egyptologist (I think) offers the least specific “promise” of yesterday’s four covers. The other three with their focus on books and/or literaria in the title are “literary/academic thrillers.” And you probably know whether you like those sorts of books or not.

The Egyptologist…ask 100 different people and you might finally get on the trail of what this cover is offering. To me, it’s pretty striking though and I might pick it up from a table and take a look.

So with that, let’s take a look at some more covers.

Lying Awake by Mark Salzman

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

The Abomination by Paul Golding

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

The New Testament translated by Richard Lattimore