I have often been critical on this blog of the world of magazines due to the predictability of their bland, pushy covers dripping with so-called celebrities and endlessly banal copy lines.
Recently, I popped into my local Waterstone’s (I keep the apostrophe in). They have always had a habit of displaying new books front cover side up on tables.
As I wandered around, I became increasingly depressed about the sameness in their presentation. I surreptitiously snapped these shots on my iPhone.
See what I mean? Pretty dull, aren’t they? But all was not completely lost. Tucked away on the shelves was this delightful series from the small independent publisher Little Toller Books.
All of the other covers on the Waterstone’s tables have little distinctiveness: perfectly usable images are overwhelmed by bad typography and clumsy layouts. All end up looking exactly the same, just like the magazines I hate so much.
When will publishers stop this relentless pursuit of ‘selly’ covers? Remainder shops are full of them. The fact is, there is no magic formula for such covers, and many other factors come into play: good reviews, distribution, radio, television, social media, book signings, etc., etc.
It takes the bravery of an independent like Little Toller Books or Persephone Books to present a uniform style that not only creates a strong presence in bookshops but also treats the audience with intelligence and integrity. One can only assume that they probably don’t have overpaid, know-it-all sales directors barking at the art directors.
There was a golden period when many publishers had individual, uniform styling – why not bring it back?