Dare to Love a Book for Its Cover

I just posted a review on Goodreads: Stefan Mancuso’s The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior. Weighty title, but an argument for good book design and for a wonderful library that fronts new books. The cover literally drew me to this book, which is, as I said in the review, a lovely item with heavy, glossy paper, full cover photos, and a daring black cover with three bits of vegetation to draw the eye.

One of the things I do occasionally is help other writers, most often poets, to create their own books for self-publishing. The design of the book matters, although a fine cover cannot excuse a boring book, clumsy writing, or poor editing. But eye candy helps, especially if it reveals its connection to the content. Recently, I read a novel that claimed on its cover that the book was “hilariously funny.” It wasn’t. In fact it was serious and poignant. I was angry with the author for misleading me, until I thought about it. Likely, she had no control over the cover design. Someone in publicity slapped that misleading phrase on the cover.

Good, honest design can assure the reader that someone cares, be it a commercial publisher or an author determined to avoid the delays and complications of traditional book production and distribution. Gone are the days, I hope, of vanity publishers who provide no editing, slipshod design and extortionary expense to the author.

We are, thanks to the internet, able to make choices about offering our creative work to readers. I’m not partial to either option, selfpublishing or traditional. But I am in favor or a sell designed book that delivers what its cover promises.

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