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The Art of Book Covers
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There is a particularly interesting post today at Type M for Murder. Nan Beams, who is responsible for book production at Poisoned Pen Press, talks about designing book covers.

Nan says that the first function of the cover of a book is to attract—and hold—the attention of the book shopper and goes on to explain some of the ways designers and artists seek to achieve that goal.

She points out that different sorts of books require different design approaches. Although she doesn't address the question, I can't help wondering if a small publisher like Poisoned Pen Press needs much different kinds of covers than a big mass market publisher.

While bestselling paperbacks are battling to catch the reader's eye on crowded store shelves, Poisoned Pen Press does a much larger proportion of its business with libraries, and through catalogs and online. It would seem that a more subtle approach might be needed and, in fact, the covers of our Byzantine mysteries do beckon the reader more politely than your typical thriller cover does.

It's kind of amusing to think about authentic Byzantine mosaics battling with state-of-the-art advertising techniques and computer graphics. Our covers were mostly designed for church walls, not twenty-first century commerce. The printing press hadn't even been invented yet. What would the artists who painstakingly assembled the glass tesserae forming the mosaics would have thought of seeing their work on book covers?

Mary and I have always loved the covers. They tell readers exactly what is inside the books -- historical mysteries which emphasize the time period and are faithful to it.

I have to admit, though, I got a kick out of seeing the cover of the Greek edition of Two For Joy from Govostis. Obviously the larger Greek publisher took more of a mass market approach. I hope any readers who bought the book because of the flames in the background weren't disappointed.

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