Book Cover Designs

Edited by Matthew Goodman

Schiffer Publishing | 224 pages | 2016

Reviewed by Fred Beauford

When I received an email from Schiffer Publishing, a book publishing company I was not familiar with, I knew immediately that the book they were pitching to me, Book Cover Designs, was one I had to personally review.

I have done much with book covers at Neworld Review, as you well know. I learned years ago, as a print magazine Editor-in-Chief, that print and visual art compliment each other in so many ways.

But now what?  What about this brand new online world? This is not the large, wonderful space you have with an 8 1/2 by 11 format, or a “double truck,” as the case may be.

So, how do you marry the best of both worlds?

One day, as I was sitting in my office in New York City (the barstool at The Garage in the Village), I was thinking about all the wonderful books that had started pouring into Neworld Review, my first venture into this new world.

It hit me: those great looking book covers would make better art than author’s photos. Most writers are not noted for their good looks, anyway.

It was clearly an impolite thought on my part about my good, faithful friends, the writers; but nevertheless, I immediately took them off of the home page, and started using the book covers as art; and here we are, almost ten years later, and those great covers certainly did help to put us on the map.

In fact, I spotted at least four of them in Goodman’s book that I have used for art. It was also good to see the faces of the artists that produced those covers.

Matthew Goodman does a great job in his selections, as he looked at the work of countless dozens of book cover designers, both individuals and design companies. In the end, out of this, he selected 51. He also had all of his selections to write a brief reason for their many successes in their field.

Most of Goodman’s selections in Book Cover Designs worked very well as both art and as a selling tool. Because, in the end, and I don’t have to tell you this, book readers, if the buyers don’t know in a few seconds just what this book could be about, the design means nothing, a total failure, no matter how great the art is.

One of the major jobs of the Editor-in-Chief, as I well know, is to keep a sharp eye on the art directors, especially if they are brilliant, and don’t let them get carried away. In Goodman’s book, a few of his subjects did just that, and made me go, “Now what is this all about?”

But they were few.

It is also interesting to note just how evenly this most compelling, yet quiet branch of art directing is spilt so evenly between male and female artists. Maybe this just Goodman being politically correct, or maybe this is just the case. Let’s hope so.

This book would make a nice present on any occasion for that bookworm friend or relative. Race, color or creed, we all are grateful that we all have at least one of them. This bookworm certainly found Book Cover Designs quite interesting.

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