Exercise: Choosing a book by its cover

Exercise: choose a book by an author you’re familiar with, and design 2 covers, one illustration or photo, one type… The book I’ve chosen is The World’s Longest climb, by Pauline Sanderson – it’s an account of the Everestmax expedition in 2006, and significant as the first book I’ve bought and actually read in the same year.  Published by Grafika, and you can buy it on Amazon of course. The book is narrative of the journey with photos, the writing style is energetic, and the focus is on the journey, teamwork, camaraderie, and the idea that ordinary people can do this stuff.  It’s almost self-published – the publisher only has a list of 3, and they skimped on the proofreading. For my designs, I’ve decided to work to the same square(ish) size as the original, and the rest of the publisher’s list. The original cover design is largely photographic, so my non-typographic design choice will be illustration.  I’ve started with a list of phrases to describe the book, a simple map to describe the journey, and added symbols – arrows, sun, cyclists, climbers, campervan – and colours > earth colours to describe deserts, dust, high altitude plateau, and white for snow, ice, mountain, and a vivid blue sky.

Notebook pages (click to read)
notebook page
notebook page
notebook page
notebook page
notebook page

Cover designs

Cover designs, 3 versions (pdf)

Version 1 – adapting the map and the arrows to give a feel of the journey.  Added some personal symbolism > the arrow that comes down off the mountain, and the sensation of coming down off the plateau towards the Himalayas… Trying to get the lines and proportions of the blocks of colour to balance. The title font is Matisse ITC, chosen for the ‘M’, and the header/body text is Minion Pro, reasonably clear and a bit fussy – the fonts and the cyclists aiming to balance out the straight lines a bit.  On the back, the white box is for the ISBN/barcode/price details, the brick-red boxes for photos from the text.  The cyclists were interesting > they’ve moved around the page a lot, and the quantity has changed.  They work best as a group of 3, going (downhill, disturbingly…) in the opposite direction to the text – guess this is about balance. V1 front cover V1 spine V1 back cover Version 2 – adds a textured background and re-arranges text and cyclists to fit – this version works best (think).  I don’t need the arrows here (too fussy).  Not totally sure about some of the font colour choices, as the contrast isn’t that good – looks better on the pdf though, and possibly choice of paper would make a difference too, so have left it.  Also, the design on the back cover may depend a bit on the ‘L’s – which might not work so well with other characters – so this may need changing when the text was added. V2 front cover V2 spine V2 back cover Version 3 – this is the text only version.  I’ve used one chunky font – Impact – and simplified the whole thing down to letter spacing, colours and an angle.  I would prefer less space between the letters on the mountain, but this is as good as I could get it without changing the font.  Perhaps I should have drawn it? Not sure if it still conveys enough about the book, but it should be bright enough to stand out on a bookshop table display.  The spine looks like a Lonely Planet title – this is an accident but it’s ok.  This style of doing things relies on less text on the back cover too, and the ‘L’s issue again.  I should really try it out with actual text,  that would be the next job. I’ve added the cyclists to make up for these shortcomings… V3 front cover V3 spine V3 back cover

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