Cover Design About Things Online

I was walking by my favorite purveyor of printed matter (shout out to Harvard Book Store!) and a new release in the window caught my attention. It wasn’t actually the book I was peeping so much as its cover, which bears a striking resemblance to some of the amateur designs I’ve thrown together lo these last few months.

Now here’s what bugs me about this cover, for the book I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59: it’s supposedly a juicy tell-all about working at Google. So why did the designer(s) use the Facebook profile silhouette as their central visual element? I get that using the blank blue avatar for a book about digital culture isn’t the most original concept; again, that’s what separates the Chip Kidds of the world from kids messing around on their Macs, such as myself. But at least my book has to do with social networking. This here is just lazy-ass jacket design. As if all big online behemoths were the same, and for shorthand’s sake it’s fine to conflate them.

Or worse, this cover could be the result of design by marketing, and they were worried people like me wouldn’t pick it out of a display based on Google’s (also by-now iconic) rainbow color scheme alone. Or some genuinely creative play thereupon. Design like this screams Bargain Bin in nine months.

By contrast, here’s what makes Kidd the Kanye of book designers. (Not sure that’s the right comparison, but go with me for argument’s sake.) Here’s his cover for the new Haruki Murakami book 1Q84, which I’m jonesing to read. Actually, it’s just part of the cover, which consists of a vellum overlay atop gorgeous photography, so kinda two covers in one. It’s an elegant, singular solution to match Murakami’s elusive, sophisticated stories. (For a deeper read about the design process behind 1Q84, check out this kickass post on Hyperallergic – hat-tip to @brainpicker for the headsup.)

Just make an effort, people, is all I’m saying. Or, in Kanye’s immortal words, “shoot for the stars, so if you fall you land on a cloud.” Amen.



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