What do stories look like?

Chip Kidd is a book cover designer for the publisher Knopf, an imprint of Random House. You probably haven’t heard of him, but if these covers look familiar, you know who he is:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Naked by David Sedaris

Kidd delivered a TED talk reflecting on his 25 years designing book covers, asking himself, “What do these stories look like?….They all need to look like something. They all need a face.” He talked about book designers’ threefold responsibility: to publishers, to readers, and to the book’s author. “A book cover is a distillation. It is a haiku, if you will, of the story.”

Maybe we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but it’s hard not to. It’s reassuring, then, to know how much thought goes into it. At the same time, as e-books become more and more popular, readers might only see a thumbnail image of a book’s cover art: that’s not a lot of space for a designer to communicate “what the story looks like.”

What’s your favorite book cover?

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4 Responses to What do stories look like?

  1. Commander says:

    Some of my favourite book covers are from my collection of James bond books by Ian Fleming. I made sure I got a matching set. Looks good. 🙂

  2. Cassie says:

    I love his comparison of a book cover to a haiku. I also love his covers for Naked and Dry. They just grab you. So does IQ84, but I really love how simple some of his work is.

  3. Carol J Dewing says:

    I love the covers of the Ella Clah series by Aimee and David Thurlo.

  4. Pingback: Good design, bad design: Who makes it that way? | Robbins Library Blog

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