Judging a book by its cover: ‘Full Dark, No Stars’

I’ve been fortunate to make my living stringing words together for going on twelve years now. The last half of that period has been in advertising and marketing, giving me ample opportunity to see how words and images can come together to create something powerful. One thing I’m often struck by as an “insider” is how little people on the outside understand about the process. I don’t mean that to sound snobby – I freely admit to understanding little about the inner workings of industries I’m on the outside of, such as dentistry and automotive repair. It’s just that, having been a part of hundreds of these processes over the last several years, I sometimes find it hard to believe that not everyone understands how difficult it is to craft a message that combines just the right words and just the right images in an effective package.

So, when I see things like this, which give a fascinating peek into the real work of designing something for a specific audience, I jump at the chance to share it. Take a look at that long series of choices the good folks at Cemetery Dance sifted through in trying to find just the right cover for their edition of Stephen King’s collection Full Dark, No Stars. Notice how some small changes make a big difference, while some big changes are virtually unnoticeable. Pay attention to how the placement of the title, something that you look at now and probably say, “Well, where else would it have gone?”, was such a difficult thing to decide. And know that, as you scroll through those choices, it’s likely a fraction of the amount that the artist and designer produced just to get to that point.

Kudos to Cemetery Dance for giving us all a peek at how hard they work to produce what are, in my opinion, some of the best-looking books on shelves. What do you think of their choices? Are there alternate selections that you wish they had gone for? And what are some of your personal favorite book covers? Feel free to take the comments section and talk amongst yourselves.

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