Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Eye candy

I must admit it—I'm a book cover junkie. I mean, there's just no way that I'm gonna spend hard-earned money on a book with that has a bad cover. Books are expensive, no? And here in my corner of the world, I noticed that book prices have become quite steep lately. (It couldn't be because of that stupid effing TRAIN law, could it? But everything's seems pricier lately because of it.) Also, the book cover is like the cherry on a banana split or a sundae. It somehow completes that damn thing, making it prettier. Good ice cream and luscious cherry = one helluva dessert. If that cherry ain't shiny red and didn't have that stalk that people with dextrous tongues can tie into a knot (oooh, the possibilities!), then what's the point. I might as well just eat sugar to end my meal, which I may have done a few times before, in the past, like yesterday.

If you think you've written a fine novel or the next Harry Potter or some sexy piece of fiction that people would get their rocks off to, then wouldn't you want to have one eye candy of a cover? Yes, I know that beauty is subjective (what isn't?), but there are certain things in life that make you gasp because it's beautiful, yes? I'm not even talking about the principles of design, as I know nothing about them. I guess I'm just talking about a beautiful, well-designed cover in the same way that the US Supreme Court couldn't even give a good definition of what's pornographic. In their words, "I'll know it when I see it."

I love simple book cover designs. So no screaming typefaces and sloppy Photoshop. And also, no cliches like headless women for romance books. I know that my aesthetic taste differ significantly from many people, but when it comes to book covers, we bibliophiles can spot an ugly cover a mile off, right? It's this difference in our aesthetic tastes that make for interesting scenarios. Like clothes shopping with the bf, for example. I can recall countless times when I particularly liked a shirt or a shoe and then asked him if it looked good, and then felt thrown off when he said, "Eeeehhhh" or "Just choose another one" or my most dreaded "It's just okay." The thing is, I kinda trust him on these things. He's a graphic designer, and a damn good one. Still, farewell cute shirt, bye-bye awesome shoes. You could've been mine.

Anyway, I've digressed. So let's return to book covers. The photo below is a favorite.

I don't think these Signet Classic editions are in print anymore. Sad. So I get hold of them at secondhand bookshops. I've read a few of these babies when I was a teenager, and I have yet to met a book cover from this line that I didn't like. Let's break it down.

Lots of white space on this one. So it doesn't appear to be busy. Notice how the author's name stands out, with the clean serif typeface. Normally I don't like things written in all caps, but I'll take this one. The typeface used is so elegant that it doesn't come across as being loud. And the title! It's done in calligraphy! I'm a bit wary when I see calligraphic typefaces nowadays, as most of them are done by computer, which I think is sort of cheating. Beautiful calligraphy takes time to do. I know that the calligraphy on this cover is done by hand because of the slight letter differences. Look at all three letter Es. They have different  lead-in and exit strokes and different eyes (which is the enclosed part in the small letter e). Oy, typography orgasm!

The most awesome element of the Signet Classic book covers would have to the figures which are all hand painted. The two ladies in this cover have such intricate details in their composition. In a way, it's a painting within a painting, as the ladies' dresses serve as a canvas to smaller painted scenes. They don't make these kind of covers anymore, I think. Such a shame.

Of course, it wouldn't be the same if I weren't going to nitpick. One thing that I don't like about these editions is that the ink smudges. So after reading more than 10 pages, your fingers have this grayish smudge. This means only one thing though—you can't pick your nose after reading.