Year in Reading

A Year in Book Cover Design: Michael Fusco

By posted at 2:10 pm on December 23, 2009 6

Here’s a list of my favorite covers of 2009. The best way for me to pick some favorites was to break them up into categories. I feel that when a designer has the task of designing, say, a nonfiction book, the parameters are very different than when designing a book for one of the most popular fiction authors in the world, and so it felt most natural to split things up this way.

Best Nonfiction Cover
Fordlandia by Greg Grandin, Cover design: Rodrigo Corral Design: Rodrigo Corral is my favorite designer, period. I love everything he does. Fordlandia is a great example of a cover that really feels like what’s inside. The painting is perfect, and the type is beautifully rendered. I love the palm frond hanging over the F. It draws your eye to the title instantly.

Best Big Book Cover
Under the Dome by Stephen King, Cover design: Rex Bonomelli, illustration by Ray Brown: This cover is amazing for so many reasons. First of all, even though it’s a no-brainer in terms of concept, they really did a brilliant job illustrating the town. Secondly, the jacket has no flap copy. Nothing! Just barcode and title. This is something only Stephen King can pull off, but it really adds to the clarity of the cover to not have anything else on it. Thirdly, Amazon wrote a piece about the cover, describing its origins on the product page. This is something you never see. It shows that this is truly a unique jacket.

Best Fiction Cover
The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball, Cover design: Helen Yentus: It’s hard to pull off (or get approved) a cover where the title is obscured. In this case, however, Yemtus has done such clear work that the title reads right away, despite the fact that it never actually fully appears.

Best UK Cover
cover cover
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem, Cover design: Miriam Rosenbloom: My wife and I recently designed and screenprinted a poster for Jonathan and his marathon New York readings around the city last month. When we were brainstorming for the poster, I saw this cover and thought, “Damn! I wish I had thought of that.” This is a cover that would never fly with an author as popular as Lethem in an American market because the type is small and the image is big. The result is powerful, toothy, and original.

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6 Responses to “A Year in Book Cover Design: Michael Fusco”

  1. david, seattle
    at 4:18 pm on December 23, 2009

    Terrific post. My story: I never buy a book with an amazing cover because I never buy books except from betterworldbooks, their $15 bargain bin for 5 books, library discards and yard sales. I am 99% a library user. How covers have changed over the course of my reading life–almost 60 years of devotional reading. An interesting and compelling cover will attract me while scouting for new reads in a book store and then I’ll decide if I want to put the book on hold at the library.

  2. Beelzebub
    at 3:07 am on December 24, 2009

    On the Lethem cover: the American version is just horrid. Absolutely horrid!

  3. Michael Fusco
    at 8:35 am on December 24, 2009

    I wouldn’t call it horrid. It’s just aimed at a different audience. It’s obvious that they wanted to market the book to a more broad audience, hence a more broad cover. The image Rodrigo (the designer) used is beautiful and the treatment (printing it on a metallic paper or with metallic inks) gives it a really interesting look. It’s just not as cool looking as the UK jacket.

  4. Susan Straub
    at 9:20 am on December 24, 2009

    Wonderful, Mike. I love that love’s done this. It’s fascinating and important to know why something is so perfect and powerful. Thanks.

  5. Susan Straub
    at 9:20 am on December 24, 2009

    I meant to say ‘love that you’ve done this’…but the mistake is nice too.

  6. Beelzebub
    at 12:50 am on December 25, 2009

    I’m going to have to retract my previous statement about the American cover for “Chronic City.” It looks a lot better in real life than pictures of it on the internet lead you to believe.

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