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?