Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Phaidon: Lewis Carroll

This is a gorgeous collection of some of Lewis Carroll's 3000 photographs taken during the mid-late 1800s. The photographs are mostly portraits of children and prominent Victorian figures like Lord Tennyson - turns out Carroll, apart from being a mathematician and writer, is considered one of the greatest Victorian photographers. The interior is set very nicely with a lot of white space - one photo per right hand page with an accompanying text on the left. The cover is a trip. Taking a part of the text of Alice in Wonderland, the designer has picked out the letters spelling Lewis Carroll. Info to come (I think the designer's first name is Sonya).

Friday, December 26, 2008

David High: Less Than Zero

Trade paperback - saw this Christ Mas Eve in the Union Square Barnes & Schnoble's (which was absolutely MOBBED by the way - I guess people are STILL buying books!). The title, which is practically white-on-white toward the middle, is the only part of the cover that is embossed - and everything is matte. Makes me want to read the book. The city is a smoggy LA, where the story takes place in the 80s. I wonder if the white-on-white embossed title alludes to the mountains of cocaine the characters snort.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Aesthetic Apparatus: The Crying of Lot 49

Kewl kover from AA. This is the story of a woman who acquires her dead boyfriend's estate, which includes a stamp collection, and later discovers a renegade postal service. I love that font for the number 49. I wonder what it references.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Broadway Melodie of 2008: Part Un

Yes, I'm a theater fag. I've been listening to a lot of Playbill Radio lately, and one thing lead to another, and before long I was looking back at my years of theaterfandom, much of which was due largely to the amazing posters of yesteryear. There is certainly some good work being done in the field nowadays, mostly by SpotCo, who created the posters for Rent, Chicago and Avenue Q. But for me, there is an iconic quality to this old stuff that rocks my pants.

Nine: 1982, The Rink: 1982, How to Succeed (How awesome is it that they shortened it to H2S) 1994, Anything Goes (revival with Patti LuPone - poster by the amazing illustrator James McMullen) 1988, Dreamgirlz - original cast 1982, And the best poster ever, A Chorus Line: 1975!! More great posters to come.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Scott Levine: The Woman and the Ape

Photo by Cary Wolinsky. This one speaks for itself.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Digging to America

I'll admit I have a thing for saturated colors and tiny star motifs, so perhaps I'm biased, but I love this jacket. This one harkens back to's from Knopf, but does anyone know who designed it?

From Amazon: In what is perhaps her richest and most deeply searching novel, Anne Tyler gives us a story about what it is to be an American, and about Maryam Yazdan, who after Thirty-five years in this country must finally come to terms with her “outsiderness.”

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport—the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian American wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate with an “arrival party,” an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.

Even independent-minded Maryam is drawn in. But only up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by one of the Donaldson clan, a good-hearted man of her vintage, recently widowed and still recovering from his wife’s death, suddenly all the values she cherishes—her traditions, her privacy, her otherness—are threatened. Somehow this big American takes up so much space that the orderly boundaries of her life feel invaded.

A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that cast a penetrating light on the American way as seen from two perspectives, those who are born here and those who are still struggling to fit in.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Herb Thornby: A Student of Living Things

Intriguing cover from May, 2006. It's nice and creepy that the labels for the title and author replicate the labels on the specimen jars. It all of a sudden makes me feel like I'm in a bigger jar too. The story is a family drama/thriller about a near-future Washington D.C. where the Department of Homeland Security has been growing in power. A biology P.hD. watches as her brother is gunned down at their university, and sets out to find his killer - only to discover her family's dark secrets. Photo entitled "Perfect Frogs" by Justine Cooper.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gregg Kulick: Down Town

Top is the final cover, bottom is an earlier comp that Gregg submitted - note how the red letters spell Down and the black letters spell Town, so that the title actually appears twice! Gregg tried to hire an illustrator for this project but ended up knocking out this illustration himself in a few days. The novel tells the history of a small southern town from the mid-nineteenth century through modern times.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Top is the new 50th Anniversary Edition from Vintage. Bottom is the first edition from Random House. Designer info to come. There is something very Paul Rand-ish about the script in the new edition. Maybe the ripping apart of the black is supposed to evoke Holly Golightly's power to transform seemingly nothing into something grand. Or allude to her exposure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jaya Miceli: Justinian's Flea

I saw this in the bookstore this weekend and was instantly drawn to it. A skull and a mosaic - you immejately know what this book's about. It might look morbid, but there's something undeniably fun about it at the same time that brings a smile to my face. Maybe the skull is's also nice to see a skull in profile for a change.

Product Description: "During the golden age of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian reigned over a territory that stretched from Italy to North Africa. It was the zenith of his achievements and the last of them. In 542 AD, the bubonic plague struck. In weeks, the glorious classical world of Justinian had been plunged into the medieval and modern Europe was born.

At its height, five thousand people died every day in Constantinople. Cities were completely depopulated. It was the first pandemic the world had ever known and it left its indelible mark: when the plague finally ended, more than 25 million people were dead. Weaving together history, microbiology, ecology, jurisprudence, theology, and epidemiology, Justinian’s Flea is a unique and sweeping account of the little known event that changed the course of a continent."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Christine Van Bree: Lincoln

Winner of the Crop of the Year Award. Lincoln continues onto the spine, where he is tinted red.

The book chronicles Lincoln's language skills - he wrote his own speeches - in addition to love letters and other writings. It was his skill with language that shaped the nation's attitude towards slavery. And, a "...comic depiction of what happens when two people of the same sex are bedded has a heterodox clarity that reveals his familiarity with bodily realities..." :o

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Path to the Spiders' Nests

I saw someone reading this on the subway the other day. He was at one end of the car and I was at the other. Can it be said that a cover is successful if it leaps out at you from across a crowded subway? Anyone know who designed it?

From Amazon:

Italo Calvino's debut novel, updated to include changes that the author made for the definitive Italian edition, previously censored passages, and his newly translated, unabridged preface. "The Path to the Spiders' Nests," written when Calvino was twenty-three and first published in 1947--tells the story of Pin, a cobbler's apprentice in a town on the Ligurian Coast during World War II. He lives with his sister, a prostitute, and spends as much time as he can at the lowlife bar where he amuses the grownups. After a mishap with a Nazi soldier, Pin becomes involved with a band of partisans. Calvino's portrayal of this band, seen through the eyes of the child, is not only a revealing commentary on the Italian resistance, but also an insightful coming-of-age story. A bold, adventurous novel, The Path to the Spiders' Nests is animated by the formidable imagination that made Italo Calvino one of the most respected writers of our time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jen Wang/Jason Freedman: The Vivisector

Happy Halloween! Jen Wang designed (based on the series design), Jason Freedman created the collage.

From Penguin: " Hurtle Duffield, a painter, coldly dissects the weaknesses of any and all who enter his circle. His sister’s deformity, a grocer’s moonlight indiscretion, the passionate illusions of the women who love him—all are used as fodder for his art. It is only when Hurtle meets an egocentric adolescent whom he sees as his spiritual child does he experience a deeper, more treacherous emotion in this tour de force of sexual and psychological menace that sheds brutally honest light on the creative experience."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Susan Mitchell: Sea of Poppies

Beautiful cover printed on super-dooper matte watercolor-paper-y paper. I love that the poppies have assumed this watery quality - they look like underwater plants or tentacles. The font is gorgeous. The book is about a ship called the Ibis, that is sailing from India to fight in the Opium Wars. It's an epic reflection on Asia in the mid 1800s and is supposed to be amazingly well-written.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peter Mendelsund: A Quiet Adjustment

From Alibris: "Inspired by the actual biography of Lord Byron, Markovits reimagines Byron's marriage to the capable, intellectual, and tormented Annabella and the scandal that broke open their lives: Byron's incestuous relationship with his impetuous half-sister, Gus."

The cover looks great - the frame is metallic I think. I'm thrilled that we're moving past the olde paper look. The cover looks like an off-kilter broach. The back cover is the back of the broach, with the type at an angle. And the spine is gorgeous - there's a small oval with the face in it and lots of concentric dotted circles expanding from it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jen Wang: Disquiet

The top is the final cover, bottom is an ealier comp. This is the story of a family that reunites in a chateau under dark circumstances. One of the characters has given birth to a stillborn child, and continues carrying the dead baby as if it was a doll. You can see the baby, strangled by its umbilical chord, in the bottom comp, under the coffin. Don't mean to get gruesome or anything...I just think this cover is gorgeous. And the blue is metallic!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Birds

I found this in a Gawker story about movie posters:

While I like it, and it's certainly very fresh, I keep looking for something in that feather silhouette - like maybe the edges are suppposed to be bird there something I'm not seeing? It doesn't seem like it was made in the 60s, even though it's got that Saul Bass vibe...where did this come from?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mark Melnick: Strange Flesh

Gorgeous cover from Mark Melnick for this poetry collection. Sepia photo, oddly beautiful script type, and naked ladies? It goes against everything most publishers want in a cover! I wonder if this was a hard sell or if it sailed through the approval process?

Description from Amazon: William Logan’s dark, intense, muscular verse has long unsettled some of the standard agreements of American poetry. His eighth collection finds its home in the elsewhere, in the various small towns and ancient cities where the poet has felt some shimmering presence of the past. Logan uncovers the memory of the Leviathan in the Massachusetts fishing village where he was raised, the coupling of gods in Venice at the millennium, and signs of the Flood in Texas. He explores places familiar and unfamiliar, whether tenting on the plains with General Custer or seeing a horrific vision behind the Blaschkas’ famous glass models of the invertebrates. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah followed strange flesh; in the collapsing real-estate market of the past, this master of formality as well as form discovers the sins of the flesh that still haunt us.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Christopher Brand @ Rodrigo Corral Design: Salo

From the Criterion Collection, the DVD cover and sample booklet pages. From Criterion:
"Pier Paolo Pasolini’s notorious final film, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), has been called nauseating, shocking, depraved, pornographic . . . it’s also a masterpiece. The controversial poet, novelist, and filmmaker’s transposition of the Marquis de Sade’s 18th-century opus of torture and degradation to 1944 Fascist Italy remains one of the most passionately debated films of all time, a thought-provoking inquiry into the political, social, and sexual dynamics that define the world we live in."

The cover shows a still from the film, and I love how simple and effective the type is - and how powerfully it relates to the image. The repeated tick marks look like cuts, or lashes of the whip, and the type is cold, sophisticated, and merciless.

Incidentally, the director was brutally murdered when he was repeatedly mowed down by his own car. The killer was never found, even though a hustler first confessed and then retracted his confession.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Carol Devine Carson: A Venetian Affair

From Knopf, 2003. The image is a very tight crop of a Velasquez painting. This is a true story of the author's discovery of a cache of 18th Century love letters between a noble ancestor and a lower-class woman. "As their courtship unfolds, they plot elaborate marriage schemes that offend everyone, arrange secret trysts in borrowed rooms, cause trouble for the servants who must ferry their forbidden correspondence, and even weather an unwanted pregnancy, from which Giustiniana, with her wits and ingenuity and some crucial assistance from the infamous Casanova, emerges unscathed." (Publisher's Description)

I think this is so striking because the hand and letter are naturally set against a black background by the painter, who has isolated them with brilliant lighting. And I love the red rectangle.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Charlotte Strick: The Secret Life of Words

A book about the origins of English, which it turns out, has absorbed words from over 350 different languages, including the word "shampoo" from Hindi.

Thank God, Allah, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and Zeus, among others for this cover. I really love it. It looks awesome in the bookstore - check it. And it serves as a puzzle with solution on the back flap. And I love the font choice. Go Charlotte!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Evan Gaffney: The Given Day

Set in Boston after WWI, this is the story of two families, one black one white, engaged in a battle for survival and power amidst all the crazy stuff that was going down back then. There's lots of famous peeps in the book, including Babe Ruth, Eugene O'Neill, W. E. B. DuBois, and the attorney general Mitchell Palmer - famous for his communist-hunting Palmer Raids. Is that Emma Goldman on the left?

Anyway, I think it's awesome looking. Love that green tinting on the photos turning to rust.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Night Work

From Grove: "Jonas, a young professional in contemporary Vienna, wakes up one morning to discover that he may be the last living being on earth. The highways are empty. The restaurants are empty. The animals have disappeared. The radio only emits white noise and the internet is down. No one answers his phone calls. "

I really love the idea of this cover - but I'm not sure if I'm looking at a finished cover or not. The CCTVs are awesome - and the images of the empty vistas vs the horror-film-like hand are cool. I might wish there was something going on in the "green" space...or maybe there is on the final cover. It's coming out November 1, so look out, world!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pete Garceau & Chris Sergio: Obscene in the Extreme

During May of 1939, as the Nazis were burning books throughout Germany, the people of Bakersfield Calif., did exactly the same thing with John Steinbeck's new bestseller, The Grapes of Wrath. The ban was orchestrated by rich local growers: men who were busy exploiting scores of Joad families, the very men Steinbeck exposed in his novel. As a pretext, the growers cited, among other things, Steinbeck's use of foul language (bastard, bitch) and vivid scenes such as Rose of Sharon, having lost her baby, offering her milk-filled breast to a starving man. While all this was happening, Steinbeck was suffering the strains of his collapsing first marriage. (excerpts from PW)

I think this cover is very well executed and eye-catching. It was a nice idea to turn the page slightly. And I wonder how the hole was made - did Pete and Chris burn a hole into some paper in their office?

Friday, September 19, 2008

David Drummond: Can I Have a Word with You?

This is adorable. The book is about how words come to mean what they mean and how word meanings change over time. So it's great that the very definition for the word "word" is pointed out on the cover. I think it all works very simply and well. Upon further reflection, the wood background recalls a pupil's desk at school.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Carol Devine Carson: The Forever War

Wow. A beautiful cover. I am stunned. So simple and so incredibly well done and conceptual. I wasn't sure what the orange bar was when I saw this, but I liked it because it was a great color combination and a Paul Rand-ish morif. But now I think it's supposed to appear as though the helicopter may be landing on the orange bar and then as your eye moves down and the orange ends, to realize that there is still a lot of free-fall space beneath - that the landing has not really happened, and that you are hanging in the air above the ground in the middle of a free-fall.

The book is a series of vignettes by a noted war correspondent about his last ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan and the people living there. It sounds freaking amazing! Check it:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jarrod Taylor: Chicago

Love everything about this one--the colors, typeface, illustrations. All of the elements are perfectly integrated.

From Amazon:
The author of the highly acclaimed The Yacoubian Building returns with a story of love, sex, friendship, hatred, and ambition set in Chicago, with a cast of American and Arab characters achingly human in their desires and needs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Darren Haggar: Slow Down, Arthur, Stick to Thirty

From the newly revamped website of Darren Haggar:

This one is from 7/2001, and I believe Darren was working in England at the time. Art directed by Julian Humphries. The book is a comedy about nonconformists living in the city of York circa 1980. This would make a kick-ass poster.

Obscene: Movie Poster

This documentary was made in 2007 - not sure if it was ever released. Poster thanks to

As founder of Grove Press, Barney Rosset fought for the right to publish "obscene" works, starting with Lady Chatterly's Lover then Henry Miller's Tropic Of Cancer through Burroughs' Naked Lunch and beyond. He published The Evergreen Review, a magazine that was singled out for condemnation by Gerald Ford, and served as distributor for Scandinavian 'art house' film I Am Curious: Yellow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alison Forner: Broken

Wonderfully arresting cover with an illustration from a book called "B is for Betsy", a children's book originally published in 1939. Alison cropped the illustration and added the red, which I think plays very nicely with the PS logo on the bottom right. There is something so disturbingly provocative about this little girl's flirty stance and those red slouchy socks.

From Harper Collins:
Inspired by Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Clay's brilliantly observed and darkly funny novel follows the sudden unraveling of a sub­urban community after a single act of thoughtless cruelty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jason Booher: The Gone-Away World

A post-apocalyptic novel that takes place in the near future, after "Go Away bombs have erased entire sections of reality from the face of the Earth. A nameless soldier and his heroic best friend witness firsthand the unimaginable aftermath outside the Livable Zone, finding that the world has unraveled and is home to an assortment of nightmarish mutations." The storytelling in non-linear and genre-bending, and the author is the son of John le Carré.

The production on this is mind-blowing. All the pink is made of microsuede, and the green is a super-glossy, almost plastic deboss. The spine is made of the green plastic material with the title written out in suede. It's awesome!! I like the way the faded-back title on the cover interacts with the more solid author's name to evoke the idea in the story of something disappearing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Keenan: Competition

This is kinda perfect. I like that it's also a little goofy. I want the letters to start dancing and then rearange themselves. I wonder how Keenan did it....did he photograph some letterforms, or was it all developed digitally? The book talks about how Game Theory, the science of competition, which was developed by at three mathematicians including the dude from A Beautiful Mind, John Nash, applies to everything.

Barbara de Wilde: A Stopover in Venice

A woman who is disillusioned by her marriage escapes from her husband whilst vacationing in Italy. She rescues a dog, faints, and ends up living in a grand palazzo that used to be a convent. There, she discovers mysterious works of art and goes on a quest trying to identify them, all the whilst discovering her independence. Is it just me, or does the juxtaposition of the cropped legs and face make the figure possibly even more erotic than if the painting had been uncropped? And the red lines on the tag are peculiar and rather cool.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gregg Kulick: The Sacred Book of the Werewolf

A Russian novel (so I'm sure there are allegories aplenty) about a 2,000 year-old werefox who transforms into a beautiful nymphette and falls in love with a werewolf intelligence officer. In many ways this reminds me of the Curious Incident cover, but still, the silhouette is magnificently done - she looks very manga. The book, apparently, is full of sex, hence the dainty, russian-y stars. The back cover text is set in the same two-column grid as the front. AND, the turns - the small slivers that exists between the cover and the inside flaps, are spectrums. Super thin spectrum lines are also on the spine, separating the text.

Jesse Marinoff Reyes: Game Boys

Illustration by eboy. Eboy is a trio of German illustrators who "create re-usable pixel objects and [use] them to build complex and extensible artwork. And [they] make toys." You can find out more about them here. There is a glossy cross-hair bull's-eye over the whole cover that you can only see in person.

The book follows two professional video game teams - team 3D and team CompLexity as they battle each other for supremacy in a sport that is doing its best to become as mainstream as football.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jean Traina: The Question of Bruno

Saw this at a friend's house this weekend and thought it looked awesome. Reminds me of Paul Rand. A collection of eight short stories by a Bosnian refugee who learned English when he came here in the 90s and swiftly began writing. Maybe the double cropped head refers to the quality of a man being displaced.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ben Gibson: Shining at the Bottom of the Sea

An anthology of pamphlet-literature-stories written by prominent writers from the imaginary island nation of Sanjania. The author creates an evolving dialect for his stories as they span the 19th and 20th centuries and the island goes from British colonialism to a post-colonial dictatorship. A very tall order for a book cover - but the scroll and background diagrams definitely evoke the 19th century while the font looks modern. Still, without knowing anything about the book, the cover just looks plain awesome.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Evan Gaffney: A Mind of Its Own

A beautiful cover you can proudly show off in the subway, without anybody knowing what you're reading. Just perusing the Amazon description, I feel light years wiser. Did you know that many Greek statues had full-blown erections? And that Roman generals promoted soldiers based on penis length? The book then glides through the dark ages, where the penis was seen as a dark tool of the devil, to the Rennaissance, where it was lifted out of hell by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci. And on to psychoanalysis, with Freud placing the penis in the "fulcrum of society", all the way to feminism, and ending in Viagra. OMG, OMG, You Guys!