The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

December 11, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

50 YA Covers for 2014

Like all the best things on The Casual Optimist, this post started life as a conversation on Twitter. The topic this time was the under-representation of YA book designers in all these end of the year cover lists. YA covers are becoming more and more sophisticated, yet my posts this year have rarely featured them, so feel that I am unquestionably at fault here. To make some kind of amends, I thought I would post a selection of 50 YA covers from 2014. Many, many thanks to all the book designers and publishing folk (including my colleagues Alisha, Brooke, and Megan at Raincoast) for their suggestions and assistance. And special thanks to Serah-Marie and Derek at Type Books for letting me browse their shelves with my notebook in hand…

belzhar
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer; design by Kristin Smith (Dutton / September 2014)

beauty-of-the-broken-9781481407090_hr
Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Waters; design by Regina Flath (Simon Pulse / October 2014)

DorothyMustDie
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige; design by Ray Shapell (HarperCollins / April 2014)

EggandSpoon
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire; design by Matt Roeser (Candlewick / September 2014)

everything-leads-to-you
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour; design by Theresa Evangelista (Dutton / May 2014)

falling-into-place
Falling into Place by Amy Zhang; design by Paul Zakris (Greenwillow Books / September 2014)

far-from-you
Far From You by Tess Sharpe; design by Whitney Manger; cover photograph by Yojik (Disney-Hyperion / April 2014)

firecracker
Firecracker by David Iserson; design by Emily Osborne (Razorbill / October 2014)

forever
Forever by Judy Blune (Reissue Edition); design by Lizzy Bromley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers / April 29, 2014)

girl-defective
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell; design by Debra Sfetsios-Conover; illustration Jeffrey Everett (Atheneum Books for Young Readers / September 2014)

girl-on-a-wire
Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond; design and illustration by Neil Swaab ( Skyscape / October 2014)

9780670016785B
Half Bad by Sally Green; design by Tim Green / Faceout Studio (Viking Juvenile / March 2014)

The Here And Now
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares; design by Natalie Sousa (Delacorte Press, April 2014)

high-and-dry
High and Dry by Sarah Skilton; design by The Heads of State (Amulet Books / April 2014)

House of Ivy and Sorrow
House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple; design by Erin Fitzsimmons (Turtleback Books / April 2014)

if-you-find-me
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch; design by Sinem Erkas (Indigo / January 2014)

ill-give-you-the-sun
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson; design by Theresa Evangelista  ( Dial / 2014)

into-the-grey
Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan; design by Matt Roeser (Candlewick / August 2014)

Jackaby
Jackaby by William Ritter; design by Joel Tippie / Jdrift (Algonquin Young Readers / September 2014)

lets-get-lost
Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid; design by Natalie Sousa (Harlequin Teen / July 2014)

like no other
Like No Other by Una LaMarche; design by Emily Osborne; cover illustration by Michael Kirkham (Razorbill / September 2014)

9780374346676
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira; design by Andrew Arnold (FSG Books for Young Readers / March 2014)

9781452110219
The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern; design by Amelia May Mack (Chronicle Books / June 2014)

My-True-Love-Gave-to-Me
My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins; design & illustration by Jim Tierney (St. Martin’s Griffin / October 2014)

no-one-else-can-have-you
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale; design by ​​Michelle Taormina (HarperTeen / January 2014)

100-sideways-miles-9781442444959_hr
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith; design by Lucy Ruth Cummins (Simon & Schuster for Young Readers / September 2014)

paper-airplanes
Paper Airplanes by Dawn O’Porter; design by Maria T. Middleton (Amulet / September 2014)

PlayForTheCommandant
Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail; design by Matt Roeser (Candlewick / October 2014)

promise-of-shadows
Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland; design by Lucy Ruth Cummins; cover art by Luke Lucas (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / March 2014)

ring-and-the-crown
The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz; design by Tanya Ross-Hughes; model photo by Ali Smith; title type by Mario Hugo (Hyperion / April 2014)

ruin-and-rising
Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo; design by Jen Wang (Henry Holt & Co. / June 2014)

The previous two books in the series, also designed by Jen Wang:

Salvage
Salvage by Keren David; design by Sophie Burdess (Atom / July 2014)

say-what-you-will
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern; cover art by Ann Shen; design by Alison Klapthor (HarperTeen / June 2014)

schizo
Schizo by Nic Sheff; design by Kristin Smith (Philomel /September 30, 2014)

since-youve-been-gone
Since You’ve Been Gone by Megan Matson; design by Lucy Ruth Cummins; photography by Meredith Jenks (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / July 2014)

Smart
Smart by Kim Slater; cover illustration by Helen Crawford-White / Studio Helen (Macmillan Children’s Books / June 2014)

AvaLavender
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton; design by Matt Roeser (Candlewick Press / March 2014 )

side-effects-may-vary
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy; design and illustration by Annemieke Beemster Leverenz (Balzer + Bray / 2014)

this-side-of-salvation
This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready; design by Karina Granda (Simon Pulse / April 2014)

Tape
Tape by Steven Camden; cover art by Keri Smith (HarperCollins Children’s Books / January 2014)

tease
Tease by Amanda Maciel; design by Erin Fitzsimmons (Balzer + Bray / April 2014)

9781596437746
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki; design by Jillian Tamaki & Colleen AF Venable; cover art Jillian Tamaki (First Second / May 2014)

To-All-the-Boys-Ive-Loved-Before
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han; design by Lucy Ruth Cummins; photographer Anna Wolf (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / April 2014)

trouble-9781442497726_hr
Trouble by Non Pratt; design by Lucy Ruth Cummins; illustration by Dermot Flynn (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / June 2014)

truth-about-alice
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu; design by Elizabeth H Clark (Roaring Brook Press / June 2014)

two-girls-staring
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank; design by Rachael Cole; cover art Elinor Hills (Schwartz & Wade / August 2014)

we-were-liars
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart; design by Angela Carlino (Delacorte Press / May 2014)

9780374384678
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski; design by Elizabeth H Clark; photography by Ali Smith (FSG Books for Young Readers / March 2014)

9781419712357
Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman; design by Maria T. Middleton; illustration by Shane Rebebschied (Harry N. Abrams / September 2014)

year-of-the-rat
The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss; design by Matt Johnson (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books / April 2014)

Thanks all

 

December 8, 2014
by Dan
3 Comments

Series Book Covers 2014

In the past, I’ve often included a few series designs in with my favourite covers of the year. This year, I saw so many great covers that were part of a series, I thought a they deserved a post of their own…

9781847493774

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes; design by Nathan Burton (Alma / 2014)


Alma Classics; design by Nathan Burton (Alma / 2014)

A Winter's Tale

A Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare; design by Michel Vrana (Broadview / 2014)


Broadview Shakespeare; design by Michel Vrana (Broadview / 2014)

9780141396064

Nova Express by William Burroughs; cover art by Julian House (Penguin Classics 2014)


The Cut-Up Trilogy by William Burroughs; cover art by Julian House (Penguin Classics 2014)

LaSolutionEsquimauAW

Snapshots–Nouvelles voix du Caine Prize; design by David Pearson (Éditions Zulma / 2014)


Éditions Zulma; design by David Pearson (Éditions Zulma / 2014)


Wolf Haas; design by Christopher Brian King (Melville House / 2014)

My Fellow Skin

My Fellow Skin by Erwin Mortier; design by David Pearson (Pushkin Press / 2014)

Erwin Mortier; design by David Pearson (Pushkin Press / 2014)

9780241970317

After You with the Pistol by Kyril Bonfiglioli; design by Richard Green; illustration by Luke Pearson (Penguin / 2014)


Charlie Mortdecai by Kyril Bonfiglioli; design by Richard Bravery illustration by Luke Pearson (Penguin / 2014)

Tim O’Brien; design by Cardon Webb (Broadway / 2014)

9780143569725

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton; design by Adam Laszczuk; illustration by Josh Durham (Penguin Australia / 2014)


Penguin Australian Classics; design by Adam Laszczuk; illustration by Josh Durham (Penguin Australia / 2014)

9780141976150

Greek and Roman Political Ideas by Melissa Lane; cover design by Matthew Young; logo design by Richard Green (Pelican 2014)


Pelican relaunch; cover design by Matthew Young; logo design by Richard Green (Pelican 2014)

Regeneration by Pat Barker; design by Mr Foxx

Regeneration by Pat Barker; design by Mr Foxx (Penguin / 2014)

Penguin Essentials; design various (Penguin / 2014)

9780141395852

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca; design by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin Classics 2014)


Penguin Pocket Hardbacks; design by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin Classics 2014)

Les fantômes fument en cachette by Miléna Babin; design by David Drummond

Les fantômes fument en cachette by Miléna Babin; design by David Drummond (Les Éditions XYZ / 2014)


Quai No. 5; design by David Drummond (Les Éditions XYZ / 2014)

Sicilian Uncles

Sicilian Uncles by Leonardo Sciascia; design by Dan Mogford (Granta / 2014)


Leonardo Sciascia; design by Dan Mogford (Granta / 2014)1

9780374534691

August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; design by Oliver Munday (FSG / 2014)


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; design by Oliver Munday (FSG / 2014)

authority

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer (US); design by Charlotte Strick; Illustration by Eric Nyquist (FSG / 2014)


The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (US); design by Charlotte Strick; Illustration by Eric Nyquist (FSG /  2014)

Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (UK); design by Jo Walker; illustration by Kai and Sunny (Fourth Estate / 2014)


The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (UK); design by Jo Walker; illustration by Kai and Sunny (Fourth Estate / 2014)

ukojenie_RBG2

Ukojenie by Jeff VanderMeer (Poland); cover art by Patryk Mogilnicki (Otwarte / 2014)

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (Poland); cover art by Patryk Mogilnicki (Otwarte / 2014)

city-of-saints

City of Saints & Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer backlist; design by Crush Creative (Tor / 2014)

Jeff VanderMeer backlist; design by Crush Creative (Tor / 2014)

Verso Radical Thinkers; design by Rumors (Verso / 2014)

battle-of-ap-bac

The Battle of AP Bac by Neil Sheehan; design by Joan Wong (Vintage / 2014)


Vintage Shorts; design by Joan Wong (Vintage / 2014)

9782896494927

Fleur de Cerisier by Aline Apostolska; design by David Drummond (VLB éditeur / 2014)


Vol 459; design by David Drummond (VLB éditeur / 2014)


M. D. Waters; design by Jaya Miceli (Plume / 2014)

9780099598282

Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson; design by James Paul Jones (Vintage / 2014)


Vintage Winterson; design by James Paul Jones (Vintage / 2014)

December 7, 2014
by Dan
5 Comments

50 Covers for 2014

Book designers, you do amazing work. Thank you. I am especially grateful to all the designers and art directors (not to mention publicists and other publishing folk) who have shared their wisdom, provided me with images, and helped me with design credits this year — these posts would not be possible without you. I also want thank my fellow book design bloggers, notably Book Covrs, Booketing, and Caustic Cover Critic, for their sterling work, and my local bookstores, TypeBook City on the Danforth, Ben McNally Books, and Indigo Bay & Bloor, for letting me browse their shelves.

Here are my covers of 2014:

all-my-puny-sorrows
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; design by Sunra Thompson (McSweeney’s / November 2014)


All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu; design by Isabel Urbina Peña (Knopf / March 2014)

bark
Bark by Lorrie Moore; design by Carol Devine Carson; photography by Josef Sudek (Knopf / February 2014)


The Book of Heaven by Patricia Storace; design by Linda Huang (Pantheon / February 2014)

book-of-strange-new-things

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber; art direction and design Rafi Romaya;  illustration Yehrin Tong (Canongate / October 2014)

9781476747231
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt; design by Christopher Lin (Simon & Schuster / March 2014)


Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor; design by Richard Ljoenes (HarperCollins / July 2014)


Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes; design by Keith Hayes (Mulholland Books / September 2014)

california
California by Edan Lepucki; design Julianna Lee (Little Brown & Co. / July 2014)

chop-chop
Chop Chop by Simon Wroe; design by Ben Wiseman (Penguin / April 2014)

clothes-music-boys
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine; design by Luke Bird (Faber & Faber / May 2014)


The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim; design by Jason Ramirez (Penguin / February 2014)

dept-of-speculation-gray-318
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; design by Gray318 (Granta / March 2014)

Dog-Ear
Dog Ear by Jim Johnstone; design by David Drummond (Signal Editions / May 2014)


The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison; design by Tom Darracott (Granta / June 2014)

enlightenment
Enlightenment 2.0 by Joseph Heath; design by David A. Gee (HarperCollins / April  2014)


Forensic Songs by Mike McCormack; design by Jason Booher (SOHO / July 2014)

fourth-july-creek
Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; design by Allison Saltzman; illustration by Bryan Nash Gill (Ecco / June 2014)


Friendship by Emily Gould; design by Jennifer Carrow (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / July 2014)

fullblood-arabian
Fullblood Arabian by Osama Alomar; design by Paul Sahre (New Directions / March 2014)

A-Girl-is-a-Half-formed-Thing
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride; design by Donna Payne (Faber & Faber / April 2014)


Happy are the Happy by Yesmina Reza; design by Suzanne Dean (Harvill Secker / July 2014)
herodotus
The Histories by Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland; design by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin Classics / September 2014)

intervals-in-cinema
The Intervals of Cinema by Jacques Rancière; design by Jessica Svendsen (Verso / October 2014)


Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors; design by Carol Hayes (Graywolf February 2014)

leaving-the-sea
Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus; design by Peter Mendelsund (Knopf / January 2014)

And here it is side by side with 2012’s The Flame Alphabet:


The Liar’s Wife by Mary Gordon; design by Linda Huang (Pantheon / August 2014)

978-0-385-53807-7
Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce; design by Emily Mahon; illustration by Rizon Parein (Doubleday / September 2014)

9781447259374
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop; design by Katie Tooke (Picador / April 2014)


Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; design by Jamie Keenan (W. W. Norton / February 2014)


My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead; design by Elena Giavaldi (Crown / January 2014)

napoleon

Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts; design by Isabelle De Cat (Penguin / October 2014)

on-such-a-full-sea
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee; design by Helen Yentus; lettering Jason Booher (Riverhead / January 2014)

our-poison-horse
Our Poison Horse by Derrick Brown; design by Jennifer Heuer (Write Bloody / October 2014)


Radio Benjamin edited by Lecia Rosenthal; design by Isaac Tobin (Verso / October 2014)

russians
Russians by Gregory Feifer; design by Catherine Casalino (Twelve Books / February 2014)

scarborough
The Scarborough by Michael Lista; design by David Drummond (Véhicule Press / September 2014)


The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein; design by Matt Dorfman (Verso / May 2014)

9780307908483
Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball; design by Peter Mendelsund (Pantheon / January 2014)

silent-history
The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Kevin Moffett, Matthew Derby; design by Oliver Munday (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / June 2014)

song-for-approaching
Song for an Approaching Storm by Peter Fröberg Idling; design by David Pearson (Pushkin Press / March 2014)


Specter of Capital by Joseph Vogl; design by Anne Jordan (Stamford University Press / October 2014)

9780374270650
Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux; design by Nayon Cho; illustration by Mark Stutzman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / February 2014)


Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter; design by Charlotte Strick; photograph by Natalie Dirks (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / November 2014)

9781447229759
Vanishing by Gerard Woodward; design by Jamie Keenan (Picador UK / March 2014)


Wittgenstein Jr by Lars Iyers; design by Christopher Brian King (Melville House / September 2014)


Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle; design by Timothy Goodman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / September 2014)

Area-X
9780374261177
Area X by Jeff VanderMeer; design by Rodrigo Corral (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / November 2014)

young-skins
young-skins-full
Young Skins: Stories by Colin Barrett; design by James Paul Jones (Jonathan Cape / March 2014)


Your Face in Mine by Jess Row; design by Oliver Munday (Riverhead / August 2014)

Thanks all.

December 5, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Catalogue Covers: A Request for Submissions

MQ15b

For the past few years, Quill & Quire (magazine to the stars) has asked Canadian books designers choose their favourite covers of the year. This year, however, instead of choosing a book cover like everybody else, David Gee picked out the McGill-Queen’s University Press Spring 2015 catalogue designed by David Drummond.

After laughing pretty hard at Mr. Gee’s audacity (and his transparent attempts to never work in this town again), I realised I would love to do a post on great catalogue covers.

McGill Queens

Print catalogues can be beautiful things, and as David Gee himself points out, “the simple fact that publishers’ catalogues tend to fly under the public radar doesn’t mean they’re easy to design.” They’re are also an endangered species. Publishers are cutting costs, and most are switching to digital alternatives. Now would seem like the perfect time to celebrate the charm of the print catalogue before it disappears completely.

I don’t usually ask for submissions, but I don’t think I can possibly gather enough material together for this by myself. So if you’ve ever toiled thanklessly over a publisher catalogue and you’d like to see a little appreciation for your hard work, send me an email (hello [at] casualoptimist . com] with your favourite catalogue covers (and interiors if you wish), and I’ll showcase all my favourites in the New Year. The images should  be hi-res jpegs or pngs (at least 620px wide), and please be sure to include the publisher information, and all the relevant credits.

Thanks all.

December 4, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

The Complete Little Nemo

Cover

If you were wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, Taschen recently published Winsor McCay: The Complete Little Nemo 1905–1927which collects together all 549 of Winsor McCay’s extraordinary Little Nemo strips.

First published in The New York Herald in 1905, McCay’s innovative, beautifully detailed strips have been available online for sometime, and there have been attempts at reprint collections before, but this oversize edition looks absolutely gorgeous:

11

13

15

16

December 1, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

ABCD 2015

abcd-logo
As I am still working on my 2014 cover posts, it seems like a good time to let you know that the Academy of British Cover Design (ABCD) has announced its second annual cover design competition.

The competition is open to any designer based in the UK for covers published in 2014. There are ten categories:

Children’s
Young Adult
SciFi/Fantasy
Mass Market
Literary Fiction
Crime/Thriller
Non-fiction
Series Design
Classic/Reissue
Women’s Fiction

You can see the previous winners here.

November 29, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Books of the Year by Tom Gauld

books-of-the-year
Tom Gauld‘s cover for The Guardian Review‘s books of the year issue.

November 25, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

How The Strand Keeps Standing

the-strand
Over at New York Magazine, Christopher Bonanos (author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid amongst other things), profiles New York new and used bookstore The Strand:

When you visit Amazon or AbeBooks (which is owned by Amazon) and search for an out-of-print title, your results are usually listed from cheapest to most expensive. The first “store” on the list often turns out to be a barn full of books in rural Minnesota or Vermont. Some are charity stores, selling donated books—no acquisition costs at all. They certainly aren’t paying Manhattan overhead. Yet here, too, the Strand is holding on, owing mostly to that churning turnover and the quality of its stock. That barn isn’t going to have many of last year’s $75 art books for $40, and the Strand always does. Plus there are the only–in–New York surprises that come through the store’s front door. Opening a box can reveal a Warhol monograph that will sell for more than $1,000, or an editor’s library full of warm inscriptions from authors… Surely operating out of one of those barns would be cheaper. “Not with our formula,” says [owner Fred] Bass firmly. “We need the store. This business requires a lot of cash flow to operate,” and much of it comes in with the tourists. That funds the book-buying, which supplies the next cycle of inventory. Which requires this expensive retail space, and the renovation of 2003 did not just come from a desire to spiff up. It happened because of a specific event, one that probably saved the Strand: In 1996, after four decades of renting, the Basses bought the building.

November 24, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Major Styles in Troll Bridge Architecture

major-styles-troll

Tom Gauld.

November 19, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Hazlitt Interview with Peter Mendelsund

Peter_Mendelsund

Book designer and author Peter Mendelsund discusses his books Cover and What We See When We Read with Christopher Frey for the Hazlitt podcast:

November 19, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

The Great Discontent: John Gall

john-gall-ryan-essmaker-lg

Just fantastic interview with book designer and art director John Gall at The Great Discontent:

I find it hard to think about design in terms of changing the world, but it’s important to think about design in terms of the decisions you make about what you make. Ask yourself: “What am I putting out into the world? Am I helping sell Big Macs or deodorant or iPhones or whatever?” I have nothing against any of those, but at some point in my life, I decided to focus on books. Books are intrinsically good: even the worst book—with some notable exceptions—isn’t truly bad. If people are reading, it is good. As designers, we’re attached to the selling of something; no matter what we’re making there is a selling component. In that sense, the decision to work with books was very much about the larger picture of what I was helping to usher into the world.

I talked to John about his collages waaaaaay back in 2011.

November 17, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

The Final Novel in the Series is Available in the Following Formats

final-novel

Tom Gauld

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