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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Second Plane, US and UK editions

US cover by Peter Mendelsund and Chip Kidd

I've wanted to post this for awhile, but I've been waiting to see what the US edition, due April 1 from Knopf, is going to look like. It's been a fool's errand trying to track that down, though -- I haven't seen anything related to it. I'll post it as soon as it comes out. (UPDATE: Keep reading...)


In the meantime: could this be the first favorite of 2008? I'm not sure yet, but I do love two things about this: 1) This design challenges my eyes and my brain, as they need to work to interpret foreground and background, positive and negative. 2) The type. Go ahead, call it boring. It is. But as we've discussed once before (see here), there is something to be said for the way type is handled by some European publishers. The type here does what it needs to do, and it does no more. And sometimes that's a good thing.

What the hell. The first favorite of '08

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed reader Dan wrote in with the American info. Thanks Dan!


UPDATE #2: And Chip Kidd sent this in, with a note that "the sky will be adjusted a bit." Thanks Chip.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

The first cover is good, but the american version puts the UK one to shame.

Anonymous said...

Disagreed. The first conveys the message better. The second is cool and I get it, but it doesn't work as well -- for me, anyway.

Fifi said...

I love the first cover, but not so crazy about the second one. Definitely a first favorite.

angelle said...

Interesting. My first thought when I saw these two is if it was a psychological choice not to include the plane in the second one, because it's American or something. Perhaps because Americans are so used to that image of the second plane and the WTC, that it's almost a non-image in a way, or one that's almost so overwhelming it's ineffective. The second one is interesting because of what it DOESN'T show. It doesn't show any plane, first or second, just that silhouette that's gone forever. Americans, perhaps, don't need to be told what "The Second Plane" refers to... the silhouette lets us know clearly enough, and the font positioned in the middle like that maybe is all we need to know. It in itself is suggestive without needing to be explicit (and possibly evoking something overly emotional in the audience).

Just a thought. Or I could be smoking crack.

angelle said...

Oh, and just to add on to that -- I'm American, and actually from New York (was there when 9/11 happened). And I happen to like the second cover much, much better.

Anonymous said...

The American one is amazing. I can't stop staring at it.

Anonymous said...

The American one masters the art of subtley and as a result is much preferable. I'm still not ready to be assaulted by the image of a plane bearing down on a tower. Maybe never.

NathanKP said...

I agree that simple power suits the cover best.

Images of the plane, burning tower, etc are too common, over-used in fact.

NathanKP - The Ink Weaver Collection - Writing Blog

josh said...

Regarding the Kidd cover-as the book is called 'The Second Plane' shouldnt one of the towers be smoking already?

the7000club said...

the first cover looks like a bad student project... what's the appeal? the american cover is really terrific, but i personally like the first version of it, with the low-contrast sky

Dystopos said...

I'm with 7000. The graphic treatment is stronger than the one with the "adjusted" sky. However, I like the short title on the UK version instead of all the subtitling in the US one.

afarrell said...

I like both. I like the negative and positive spaces of the first one. I really liked the US edition when it was first posted. I hadn't noticed the bit of cloud in the upper left hand corner of the sky. At first glance I thought it was just odd, flat shapes that turned into the towers. I'm liking the adjusted sky cover. The towers are more obvious but not in a bad way.

Anonymous said...

If the American Version is supposed to be the destroyed World Trade Center in NYC, the drawing is incorrect. The cover suggests the two towers were in complete alignment. In actuality, the buildings were staggered so that the corners appeared to reach for eachother. I feel this was a signature aspect of the development, and the cover completely misses the possibilites there. As it is, this drawing does not really represent the buildings to me.

Anonymous said...

Well, see that. Learn something new every day.

Sergio said...

Anonymous nails it. As much as I want to love the US version(s) I feel like I'm staring at a picture of the Empire State Building without step-backs, or the Statue of Liberty with the wrong arm up. And I don't think this is just a case of me being a persnickity New Yorker, or "missing" the point of the abstraction...

If you're going to specifically represent *those* 2 towers, a feature as graphically important as their relationship to one another in space can't be ignored. In fact, that geometry was really the only thing the eye had to orient itself when looking up at them.

I mean, for the defining trauma / event of our time, and an author of this prominence, how did this get by? A beautiful idea, carelessly executed. Genuinely bums me out.... :-(

Anonymous said...

What does a blue bow-tie have to do with September 11?

Anonymous said...

The adjusted sky treatment on the American cover looks funky. It looks like a photo taken from an airplane, rather than the sky as it would appear from a position on the ground.

Also, very excited to read this because Amis has been heating up again after a depressing lull in the late nineties with Koba and Yellow Dog.

Tom Froese said...

First cover wins for directness. Second wins for sheer, stark visual focus. It pulls you into the title with powerful force. But I see nothing of the real twin towers (even though I never looked up at them in person from any angle).

Is there anything to be said about the bowtie shape of the surrounding sky?

T

MMMm said...

I love both in different ways.
I really prefer the text placement of the first, but I love how the second one makes your mind work a little, especially before you read the title.

ian shimkoviak said...

the first cover seals the deal.
Both of these fall short for me.

There seems to be a style to use these sharp angles as in Amis' House of Meetings.

The chip version (if he indeed did do it) lacks the boldness and and overall conceptual appeal. I mean, it is graphically interesting and you end up getting the idea, but it is a bit abstract. And that type could not be any smaller. I suppose in this case people will be attracted to the graphic boldness of it and not the title per se. Not a bad idea and approach to modern book design. I know most publishers would NEVER go for it.

roguescholar said...

the UK one is abso-smurfly stunning. I agree the negative/positive space thing works quite well. I think it stands on its own...I'd make the type smaller.

I think the US version lost something with the addition of clouds.