Lost Covers


Let’s admit it – we judge books by their covers.  The old adage that we shouldn’t may invariably prove correct, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it anyway.  As with any commodity, those last five crucial inches of space between the hand and the book on the shelf are ultimately traversed by the “ooh, pretty” impulse to grab.  How can you stand right there in the bookstore and get hooked on the first pages of a random book if you never pick up the book in the first place?

So yes, we can agree, covers matter.  Why else would publishers spend money to hire professional designers to create draft after draft of potential cover art?  To wit: Print recently posted a fascinating little article called “Kill Your Darlings” by Peter Terzian that asks eight designers to show their favorite runners up to a book’s cover art.

Each designer explains the history of the different designs and why the changes were made.  The progressions from initial draft to final product are intriguing – some are fluid, and some are abrupt, and whether or not the finished products are any better than the early drafts is up to you to decide.

Kevin Hobson is a writer of fiction, essays, nonfiction, songs, music reviews, and industrial copy about chocolate. His stories have appeared in several journals and magazines, most recently Instant City. His is also co-curator and co-editor of BANG OUT Reading Series and Online Journal. Kevin lives in San Francisco's Mission District, where he enjoys his chronic addictions to burritos and internet television. More from this author →