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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New book on maritime leadership . . .

. . . and thoughts about book jackets

Admirals: The Naval Commanders Who Made Britain Great, by Andrew Lambert has just been published by Faber & Faber in the UK.

The book examines ten admirals, from Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham (1536-1624) to Andrew Cunningham (1883-1963). The author uses these individuals to trace the evolution of naval command over four centuries.

What a great jacket! Last night, our book group discussed what it is about a book that makes it irresistible (or otherwise) to pick up, leaf through, and eventually buy. The jacket was a major reason, along with the typeface of the title and subtitle. Everyone said they were turned off by misty pictures rendered in Victorian pinks and blues. Titles in funky fonts that resemble cellphone texts or crawl-bar messages were equally off-putting.

Author Lambert must be very pleased with this effort.


Amber said...

Joan, what's your most favouritest book jacket ever? Out of yours, out of the last year's worth, and ever ever out of every one there's ever been?

I recently took home a publishers' catalogue because the cover was so beautiful I wanted to weep. I want to enlarge it and wallpaper with it and look at it all day.

Could be I just need a better grip on myself. Not sure.

World of the Written Word said...

What an interesting comment, Amber! Definitely worth a blog post after I've done some jacket-scanning. Meantime, I cast a comprehensive glance at my tall and well-filled bookcase-wall, just to see which one of the spines would jump out of the array, and claim instant attention. It was the spine of a book in the Time-Life Seafarers series, called Ancient Mariners. It is maroon, with gold lettering. Then I noticed that maroon stood out from other colors, in general, even tatty old books without dust jackets, which just happened to be maroon. Next was a certain bright shade of blue. Yellow and orange, to my surprise, do not stand out at all. I shall be thinking some more about this. Meantime, why don't you scan the cover of the catalogue you liked so much? Send it to me, and I'll post it. Kia ora, Joan

Unknown said...

A book group I belong to were also discussing book covers the other day, and lamenting the generally poor covers of one publisher in particular. People asked why don't they do something about it? That someone should speak to them about it...
My response was that I guess people don't actually tell that publisher that their covers are dreadful. They are rarely remarked upon in the few reviews that appear,(they publish mainly children's books, not high in review status I'm afraid). And who is brave enough in the face of a new book being released to say 'oh but what a dreadful cover' to either author or publisher? Well if we want them to improve there needs to be some bravery and honesty, and some general thought about what makes a good cover. So I'm very pleased to read the comments on your blog Joan, I'll add them to the little collection I have so I can try and work out for myself what makes a good cover.

World of the Written Word said...

That is a very thought-provoking comment. Should an author say to his or her publisher that she or he hates the jacket? When the author wants the publisher to put max. resources into publicizing the book? Perhaps the answer is that the idea for the book cover should come a lot earlier in the publishing process, when there is still room for a change.

Many thanks, Joan