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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Proust and the Squid

Design by Paola Ecchavaria

Saw this on the new books table last night. It's the latest in this year's mini-trend: the "book-on-a-book-cover" approach (also seen on The Last Novel and House of Happy Endings). It's really quite beautiful and elegant in person, and I'll leave it to those more zoologically inclined to determine if the wonderful spelled-out-in-random-letters creature at the bottom is actually more octopus-like than squid-like.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bella Abzug

Design by Susan Mitchell

If you grew up in New York in the '70s as I did, you know who Bella Abzug was. But if you don't know who she was, the "one tough broad" in the subtitle pretty much says it all. What's wonderful about this cover -- and what's particulary impressive when you see the book in person -- is how aggressively it jumps off the new books table, just as Abzug jumped into and shook up politics. If it seems a little over the top, it's because Abzug was.

My only beef? Abzug's trademark hat barely registers.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Videos for Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief

I can't remember how I stumbled across these amazing promotional videos for Douglas Coupland's new book The Gum Thief, but wow, am I glad I did. Right now, Douglas Copeland and the people who work at Crush Inc. (there's more information about the videos at the Crush site) and Random House Canada are the coolest people on the planet. Check out all the videos, and buy the book from

Oh yeah, the cover looks like this:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Visual Shock

Design by Chip Kidd

I'll be honest: I'm not exactly sure why I like this. It might be that I appreciate the restraint: for a history of controversial art, it would be all to easy to put something by Mapplethorpe or Koons or Hirst on the cover in order to create the titular "visual shock." Putting the Washington Monument on the cover drives home the idea that yesterday's controversy is today's banality.

Can someone help out and identify the object on the right? UPDATE: It's Constantin Brancusi's Bird in Space. Thanks to those who wrote in.

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The Last Great Fight

Designer name to come

"The last great fight" is how some people refer to Buster Douglas' shocking victory over Mike Tyson in 1990. How shocking? Apparently only one sports book in Vegas would take action on the fight, and they were offering 42 to 1 odds. Even casual boxing fans know Tyson lost that night, which makes it odd (?) that we see Douglas down on the canvas on this cover.

Two guesses on why we're seeing what we're seeing: 1) What does Buster Douglas look like? Yeah, I don't know either. 2) Back to the casual fans: even they know an iconic 20th centry image when they see it:

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Goodbye Madame Butterfly

Bookslut's Colleen Mondor brought Goodbye Madame Butterfly and Chin Music Press to my attention. Like the hardcover of Dave Eggers' What is the What, there's no dustjacket -- the illustration is imprinted directly on the cover. Check out the beautiful endpapers. And how cool is this: "The full-color illustrations on the cover, the endpapers and the table of contents were found in the musty stacks of Japanese used bookstores in the Jimbocho district" (from the Chin Music site). Wonderful.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Red Moon Rising

Designer name to come

I really want to like this, but no matter how hard I try to remember this is a serious work -- "Sputnik and the Rivalries that Ignited the Space Race" reads the subtitle -- I keep thinking this is a children's book about Laika the space dog.

Or is it just me?

BTW, the above is the UK design. Here's the much more straightforward US edition:

Monday, November 19, 2007

What Will Book Covers Look Like on Amazon's Kindle eReader?

With all the attention the Amazon Kindle is getting today, I've found exactly one photograph of what a book cover might look like:

Since this looks neither like the hardcover nor the paperback, and since it's branded "A KNOPF (e) BOOK," I'm wondering if we can expect different virtual covers more often than not.

See this image and more (of the device) over at Gizmodo.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Favorite Book Covers of 2007

This year's list of favorites comes early, not only due to the closer-than-thinkable holidays but also because there will be a junior member of the BDR staff who is due to be born in a few weeks.

New this year: there's a poll at the bottom of this post. I realize the layout (images here, poll there) isn't optimal, but see the note above ;-) Vote if you're so inclined. I'll keep the poll open until the end of the year and then I'll post the results.

Images are presented in no particular order. Here's 2006's favorites, and the favorites from 2005.

designed by Rob Carmichael:

Words without Borders designed by Helen Yentus:

The Worst Years of Your Life designed by Catherine Casalino:

Salt designed by Jaya Miceli:

Like You'd Understand, Anyway designed by Jason Booher:

Six Degrees designed by unknown:

Small Crimes In An Age of Abundance designed by David Drummond:

Strawberry Fields designed by Gray 318:

One Perfect Day designed by Evan Gaffney:

One Red Paperclip designed by Kyle Kolker:

Wish I Could Be There designed by Herb Thornby:

The Collected Poems 1956-1998 designed by High Design:

Race Riots designed by David Drummond:

The Little Girl and the Cigarette designed by David Konopka:

Fireproof designed by unknown:

No Cause for Indictment designed by unknown:

The Unbinding
designed by High Design:

Tree of Smoke designed by Susan Mitchell:

How to Read Comics designed by Alex Camlin:

Cool It designed by Chip Kidd:

After Dark designed by Chip Kidd:

Darkness at Noon designed by the Office of Paul Sahre:

Ghost Map designed by Ben Gibson:

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History designed by Helen Yentus:

Brave New World designed by Greg Kulick:

The Yiddish Policeman's Union designed by Will Staehle:

The Chess Machine designed by Gray 318:

The Cigarette Century designed by Rodrigo Corral:

2007 National Book Award Winners

Tree of Smoke designed by Susan Mitchell; Time and Materials designed by Laura Klynstra; other designer names to come

Tree of Smoke
is my favorite here, and it's worth seeking out in the bookstore as a .JPG doesn't do justice to its vibrancy. If you've know the designer's names (other than Susan Mitchell), please share them with us in the comments.

Congratulations to the authors (obviously), but also to the designers. What a rush it must be to see your work in a photograph like this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Arsenals of Folly

Arsenals of Folly designed by David Heasty; The Horrid Pit designed by Jonathan Sainsbury

Arsenals of Folly
picks up where The Horrid Pit (which we looked at a while ago) left off: let the photograph do its work, and recognize when less is more. There's tension in the cover of Arsenals of Folly: just how long *does* it take a mushroom cloud to form?

And for the sake of comparison:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Hedonist in the Cellar, US and UK paperbacks

US design by Keenan; UK designer unknown

These recent paperbacks don't drift too far away from their hardcover counterparts.

Here's the US design; compare to the hardcover.

And here's the UK cover; compare to the hardcover:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Worst Years of Your Life: Stories for the Geeked-Out, Angst-Ridden, Lust-Addled, and Deeply Misunderstood Adolescent in All of Us

Design and illustration by Catherine Casalino

I can't tell you how wonderful this cover is. Well, OK, I'll try.

You can almost smell the Ditto machine ink and the formaldehyde when you walk past this in the bookstore. Old geezers like me remember when everything given to you in school, be it report card, test paper, or syllabus, looked like this. Given the ages of the majority of contributors, the designer was super-smart to create a pre-PC era feel.

The back is fantastic as well: hand-written blurbs on lined notebook paper. Yes, you've probably seen that done before, but this is done *really* well.

I would show it to you but the iPhone that my wife won't let me buy yet wasn't in my pocket and I couldn't take a picture. Right, hon? ;-)

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