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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Beautiful Children

Design by Lynn Buckley

Quite possibly the most anticipated book of the new year, Charles Bock's Beautiful Children is in stores, and when I saw it last night I was a little bit surprised to find the title rendered in sparkly, raised foil. (That's a shelf behind the book, BTW: it's not part of the cover.) This is a serious-with-a-capital-S book, and the jacket just didn't connect with what I knew about the book and how it's described on the flap:

"The people of Beautiful Children are “urban nomads,” each with a past to hide and a pain to nurture, every one of them searching for salvation and barreling toward destruction, weaving their way through a neon underworld of sex, drugs, and the spinning wheels of chance."

The "neon underworld" happens to be Las Vegas, and that might explain the foil. Or it could be a reference to those characters who do emerge on the brighter, beautiful side of their journeys. This is definitely on my short list of things to read, but in the meantime, can anyone help us out with this one?

Check out the books's Web site for another, more colorful, view of the cover. Or stop by just to peek at the world's greatest copyright statement:

© Copyright 2008. Charles Bock. This is our intellectual property, so kindly don't fucking steal it.

Buy this book from


Tal said...

Definitely eye-catching and hand-grabbing. Upon first look, though, I wish the splatter of "a novel" was just a splatter, and not so ornate, to match the more random look of the title. Not sure about the sparklez. Maybe the title could have just been painterly - in black or a rusty hue mix like in the website. Still, pretty cool.

Leslie said...

I read an article in the New York Times Magazine this week about this book and came across the following quote:

"The jacket — an indicator often of the degree of enthusiasm a publisher feels — has a surfeit of embellishments: uncoated stock, embossed letters, glittering foil."

Interesting (and design-wise, depressing) way to look at book cover design, huh?

Ingrid Paulson said...

I remember being told that the big buyers of genre fiction, when being pitched new titles, won't look at the plot of the book, but rather ask what specials will be on the cover - die cuts, emboss, foils. For them, that is the indicator of a bestseller.

Mark said...

Two things of note: first, is that the Web site has some great music and design elements, a Leaving Las Vegas-noir feel. So why does the cover design seem like a repeat of the 1980s Judith Krantz era? Second, on the Random House site, the lettering appears as an all black font, different than the glitter above. - Mark

Jose Nieto said...

It's really not that complicated (nor surprising): big books represent big gambles for publishers -- large advances, bigger marketing budget, etc. Budgets for packaging grow as well, and the designer gets a lot of pressure to deliver something "with impact." Subtlety goes out the window, replaced with razzle-dazzle.

It should be noted that the online covers are often generated from the galley version of the jacket -- which is why the can be different from the covers in bookstores.

Joseph said...

Jose: all good points, particularly about what you find online...that's why I try to get to the bookstore as much as I can.

mog said...

"The most anticipated book of the new year"? Wow, do I feel out of the loop. I saw it at Borders and had no idea what it was about - but you can bet your ass that all that glitter did catch my eye, and put the book in my hands.

It's about my hometown (Vegas), so I might just have to pick it up. I have a mammoth backlist though, so it might be a while. Hopefully the paperback looks as cool. :p

Joseph said...

Mog: Yeah, there was a huge profile of Bock in the Sunday magazine a week or two ago, among other things.

Jose Nieto said...

"...that's why I try to get to the bookstore as much as I can."

Your effort is much appreciated.

I should say that I, for one, relish the opportunity to lard things up a bit when the budget allows (a rare thing). Special printing effects can be used conceptually.

PF said...

I saw it here first. Great post. Just ordered me one. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

They should have saved the money on the glitter and spent it on an extra round of editing. Got it from library, and, man, is it going back soon---unread. I had to call it at 65 pages.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

This is very eye catching. The foil emboss and the chilling childish elements splattered and leaking down the page are appropriate, yet everything does seem a bit undone.

I feel that if the the cover only had the words "BEAUTIFUL" in silver foil and "CHILDREN" in red foil it would be enough to convey the spookiness.

The fancy art being used primarily to hold the words "a novel" is a bit much.

Overall very nice mainly because of the print treatments.

ledaddyswing said...

cover should have been more edgy photo montage or simply a broken down resort sign in a desolate part of the city. the cover tells me nothing about the book, doesn't convey any of the book's unharnessed energy nor does it entice me to read it.