Wednesday Cover Story: “I’m looking for that book with the yellow cover…?”

Picture this: You’re in the middle of recounting the thrilling events of the latest novel you’ve been devouring to a friend and fellow book-fanatic when they ask you, ‘So what’s the author’s name? What’s the book called?’ And, to your shame and frustration, all your brain will offer up is an image of the book cover. For the life of you, ‘Well, the author’s name ends in –ie, and it’s got a picture of a ship and it’s light blue. . .’  is all you can come up with. Something along these lines happened to me this morning when I was trying to think of David Donachie’s A Sea of Troubles.

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I have often berated myself for the inability to recall both the author and title of a book. Shouldn’t a literature student and professed book lover have the decency to remember these things? Yes, probably. However, if you are like me, the excitement of starting a new book – unjust as it is – may eclipse such ‘details’.

As embarrassing as it is to be unable to answer a professor who asks about your latest read, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not alone in remembering covers instead of names. I’m told that countless booksellers complain that people walk up to them saying, “I’m looking for, you know, that book with the yellow cover”, expecting a helpful response.

But I suppose you could look at it as a tribute to the efforts of cover designers as it is evidently their covers that stick in our minds. In fact, a lot more thought is dedicated to creating a book cover than I appreciated before getting a closer glimpse at the publishing process. The question of whether or not a font suits the era of the storyline, whether the author or the title should be prominent, whether colours should be striking or harmonious to go with the atmosphere of the book – all of these and many more have to be considered.

While I appreciate a great cover even more now, I will nevertheless continue to try and pay closer attention to the authors’ names and the title of their books – after all, a description of the cover will not help me look up their other works. In this spirit, remember David Donachie and keep and eye out for the newest instalment in his John Pearce Series, A Divided Command (cover as yet to be finalised…)

Leah Stolzenburg, currently doing work experience at A&B

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