Discussing Book Covers

‘“Moonfleet” leapt out at him, familiar...the paperback cover displayed a watercolour of a tall ship, sails set beneath a sky where the moon beamed as bright as a golden guinea...’

-          ‘From a Distance’

What makes an attractive book cover? Is it the colour? Font family? Image selection? All of the above?

Some believe book cover designs to be the most noteworthy factor in catching a reader’s attention. Others argue that it is the value of the writing itself which takes prominence. Yet what is clear is that the attractiveness of Raffaella’s novels is present inside and out.  


Raffaella infuses her prose with a quiet loveliness that has been praised as pensive and delicate, an element that is reflected in the cover design of each novel.  The pastel pink of ‘Green Grass’, warm lavender of ‘Come and Tell Me Some Lies’ and sky blue of ‘A Perfect Life’ all mirror the life gently pulsing through the pages of Raffaella’s work. Whilst the foreground of ‘From a Distance’ swells with curling, foaming waves, both ‘The Hook’ and ‘Phosphorescence’ ripple with numerous silhouettes darting through the watery deep. These covers are not merely designed for superficial admiration; they suggest to the reader the emotional core of each and every story, as well as indicating how the narrative threads and the pace flows. 


And Bloomsbury Press is not alone in this thoughtfulness of cover design.


                                                                                                                                                                        Image copyright of Persephone Books.

Persephone Books (link below) made the intriguing aesthetic decision to cover all of their books with grey jackets and cream labels for the title wording, so as to each piece of literature a basic uniform appearance. Whereas, contrastingly, the endpaper adds a layer of texture and is specifically selected to ‘match the date and mood of the book’, allowing each publication an individuality that blooms like a rare rose whenever a cover is cracked. For instance, according to their website Vere Hodgson’s ‘Few Eggs and No Oranges’, a 600 page book over spilling with Hodgson’s ‘deeply engrossing’ diary entries from 1940-1945, incorporates ‘a fragment of a Jacqmar scarf showing a brick wall as the background to the brightly-coloured slogans that were so much a part of wartime life’. The endpaper of ‘Few Eggs and No Oranges’ deeply resonates with the dust jacket of ‘From a Distance’, which features the strikingly symbolic lighthouse image, as both elicit a sense of the past lingering into the present. Both provide a multisensory experience, lifting the viewer's mind into the abstract.


                                                                                                                                                                         Image copyright of Persephone Books.

Patrick Ness is an advocate of judging a book by its design (at least, according to his article for the Guardian). Waterstones, too, have a section dedicated in store and online to ‘Beautiful Collections’ and ‘Clothbound Classics'. And with the perceptible rise in popularity of eBooks, the question now is how much much are readers swayed to buy hardcover or paperback books purely for refined binding? Does cover design factor into your decision between purchasing an eBook and print copy?  

Raffaella comments:

I am firmly of the belief that we can, and MUST judge a book by its cover. I have in my memory images of the covers of my favourite books, and they are evocative and important, like doors and gateways, beckoning us into the story, into another world.

So which are your favourite covers?

Leave your response on Raffaella’s Facebook page, or tweet her @raffaellabarker.

Most evocative wins a copy of ‘Come and Tell Me Some Lies’!

Click for:
Persephone Books
Patrick's Guardian article
Waterstones' Beautiful Collections and Clothbound Classics

Tags : 2014 A Perfect Life Come and Tell Me Some Lies Facebook From a Distance Green Grass Phosphorescence Raffaella Barker Twitter
Raffaella's Books