Judging Books

Jacob refers me to a bunch of really good-looking sci-fi book covers from the SF/fantasy arm of Orion Books. From the above link on “We Made This”:

Fairyland by Paul J McAuley uses a holographic foil and irridescent cover stock; The Separation by Christopher Priest uses an uncoated stock and a deboss; and Hyperion by Dan Simmons uses a spot varnish over black. […]

From a quick browse of a few online sci-fi forums it looks like existing readers aren’t overjoyed at the new look, but that’s really not the point — these covers are designed to reach out to a new audience who wouldn’t dream of picking up the standard sci-fi book.

There are eight in the series, produced in-house by Emma Wallace, with a brief that was simply ‘do what you want, but bring them to a new audience’. She’s done that in spades.

Jacob and I are sort of design snobs, so this new vision is welcome as far as we’re concerned. He suggests that there are likely many people—sci-fans included—who are turned away by fantasy-art-style covers, despite that the article suggests that “existing readers” prefer the old look. As he pointed out to me, though, there’s probably a big overlap between the readers who like such covers and the readers who frequent sci-fi book forums. I wonder, then, who will really be attracted by this new approach: the less hardcore (or less “faithful”) SF fans, or those who typically wouldn’t even have read SF in the first place?

3 thoughts on “Judging Books

  1. but part of the fun of being a sf/fantasy reader has always been removing the paper cover from hardbacks so you can get away with reading what looks like an amazingly huge, scholarly tome in public… at least if you can keep people away from the spine!

  2. I think that the trick is that people can’t buy something that they haven’t picked up. And I want to pick up those books. Or I would if I was in a shop and saw them. (I hope that they don’t have any back cover text either: that way to actually sample the book the reader needs to open the book and actually read to get an idea of what was going on in it.)

    They certainly are nice, design wise. I’d say anyone who ever liked a McSweeney’s book is the audience for these covers. (I’d also say that they are, in part, playing with the sci-fi audience’s expectations for what they would find in their section: If i saw some of those designs in the SciFi/Fantasy section, I would say, “Why did someone leave a blank journal in a real book section?” and possibly open it.

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