Sunday, February 11, 2007

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover?

Been busy the past few weeks on some design jobs (read: income) for the Berlin Film Festival. Now that they're officially done and gone, I'll try and find some time to put them in the Design section of my newly updated website. I haven't put any new movie posters up there for at least a couple of years.

The good news is...I have kept to my personal promise to work on Everybody I Shot Is Dead every single day. It's amazing how a little bit each day adds up. And keeping it on the front burner keeps my head in the game.

One thing that has been running around my brain since the very beginning is "What am I going to put on the cover?" Although, sometimes the question would start with the word "Who." But early on I decided putting one person on the cover wouldn't be fair to the musicians left off. What about putting everybody on the cover? I think it would be too cluttered. And, if you want your book to stand out against the thousands of books displayed on the store shelves, a cluttered cover is not the best idea.

I've been playing around with a few different ideas over the past few months. At one point, I thought I might make the book the same size as an LP and put a full-size photo of a record on the front. Hey, I could even drill a little hole through the center of the book. An okay idea, but a record doesn't represent the total scope of Everybody I Shot Is Dead for me. It only speaks to the time frame and music aspect of the book. Probably a good cover for a music review book.

I've also scoured the bookstores and internet to see what adorns other rock 'n' roll photography books. Here's some of what I found:

Just found this last one:
Well, that completely nixes my record idea.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was messing with the cover (actually, adjusting it to a more manageable 10.5" x 12.75" size) when I locked on to something. I was just playing around with some freehand Photoshop drawing. And in about ten minutes time, I came up with a symbol that I really like. So much so that I think it's going to be the cover. If not the cover, it will be the logo.

I can't show it to you needs some tweaking and I need to render it as a finished hi res drawing. But as soon as it's done, I will unveil it here. And soon after that it will be everywhere, branding Everybody I Shot Is Dead as more than just another pretty title. (Please notice my tongue in my cheek).

Any chance I can get some of you to comment on this topic? I know it's a pain in the ass to go to the comments and fill in your name (or anonymous) and figure out the secret code, but it would be really helpful to get your feedback. I am wondering... Do you initially judge a book by its cover? How about movies? Do you judge them by the poster? How important is the cover of a book to you? Have you ever bought a book because you were initially attracted by the cover? And any other opinion you may have on the topic. Please chime away. The only stupid comment is the one you don't make.


Timo said...

So I thought I might write something. I actually have The Annie Leibovitz´s American music, which I lended from our schools library. I picked the book because I heard there was a picture of Tom Waits which I wanted to see. So I didn´t pick the book by it´s covers, to me the content means more. It might get more people interested if you would put a picture of well known musician on the cover. It might not be a good idea, who knows, but anyway I think the cover should somehow reflect what is inside.

Maybe there could be a short list of the people who appear in the book, either on the front or the backcover? And about the books size, well my opinion is the bigger the better :)

Movieposters don´t really affect me at all. I always read the reviews and then deside whether to see the movie or not.

Also, can´t wait to see those Tim Buckley photos. I´ve been listening alot of Jeff Buckley lately, Grace is one of my favorite albums. Tim and Jeff really looked alike. It´s so sad that neither of them are no longer with us.

Timo said...

Ok, so maybe I´m taking this too seriously, but I just had an idea of for the cover, and I had to put on my computer and write it here. How about a picture of an empty stage, with perhaps a mic stand and some instruments, but no musicians, kind of saying "The stage is empty" that the people who appear in the book are no longer among us. Well, just an idea though, Good Night!

Kirsten said...

Do you initially judge a book by its cover?


How about movies? Do you judge them by the poster?


How important is the cover of a book to you?

Very important unless I am specifically looking for that particular book already.

Have you ever bought a book because you were initially attracted by the cover?

Many times.

Chesher Cat said...

Thanks, Timo. I like your idea of the empty stage. And I have several of those types of shots.

I think I am going to put together a bunch of different cover comps, present them on the blog and let everybody throw in their two cents.



Your answers to my questions are most helpful. Although you've made me feel my movie poster design career was pointless. Would your answer have been different if I asked, 'do movie posters entice you to see a movie?'

I just posted one of my latest designs on my other blog if you want to check it out.

And I should also ask: Will you still buy my book if you don't like the cover? hehe

Kirsten said...

That's such an interesting question. I have no good explanation for this, but upon further reflection it occurs to me that book covers frequently entice me to read books, album covers will sometimes (but less often) entice me to listen to an album, and movie posters almost never entice me to see a movie.

Part of it may be that I'm not a big movie-watcher. You know that person in any group who doesn't get the movie references in a conversation and then you find out that they haven't seen The Godfather or Rocky or Star Wars and then you're all horrified and start grilling them about did they see This Movie? No? Well surely they must have seen THAT Movie? No? How is this possible? You can't believe it! They MUST see This, That, and The Other Movie right away! Uh, that's me. Except that I keep trying to watch Star Wars and every time I fall asleep during it.

The only places I can recall having seen movie posters are at a movie theater, in a rental store, and in someone's bedroom. The last time I rented a movie was last March and only because I had an out of town gues who wanted to rent a movie. I can't remember the last time I was in someone's bedroom who had movie posters. I believe I saw one movie in a theater last year (a propagandocumentary) and then one the year before (Serenity) which I was going to see because I loved Firefly so much. I didn't see the poster for it until I got to the theater to watch the movie.

Yes, if your book cover sucks, I will still buy it. The blog has me hooked!

Chesher Cat said...

Thank goodness. I have one book sale.

So, what's it gonna take to get you to see my movie (My First Kiss) when it comes out?

Kirsten said...

Good question. My friend Robert Peters had two lines near the end of The Pursuit of Happyness and I still haven't seen that yet. And I'm the official President (Until Deposed in a Bloody Coup) of his fan club! I don't think it's even in the theaters anymore down here.