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Judging a Book by Its Cover Design

Concept cover (left) and final cover (right). ©2009 Scribner

Concept cover (left) and final cover (right). ©2009 Scribner

Almost everyone judges a book by its cover. A compelling cover design helps cut through the media clutter; even book covers for today’s best selling authors have become more creative and elaborate. When designing the cover art for Jeannette Walls’ latest novel Half Broke Horses (Scribner, 270pgs), designers at Scribner explored several different cover concepts before finding the right fit. Walls’ family memoir The Glass Castle topped the best sellers list in 2005, and Half Broke Horses is a follow up of sorts. The “true-life novel” recounts the experiences of her larger-than-life grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.

The creatives at Scribner wanted to convey Smith’s free-spirted personality as well as the challenges she faced while growing up on the Western Frontier. After several design revisions (image left), they finally found the right balance with the help of a striking photograph by Dorothea Lange. The final cover for Half Broke Horses captures the essence of Smith’s spirit, as well as the spirit of the times she lived in (image right).

See more cover concepts for Half Broke Horses and read the art director’s critiques. Do you think they chose the right design? Leave a comment a let us know what you think.

More book cover designs that were “shelved”.

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