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Your Brain on Design: A Graphic Design Blog

Judging a Book by Its Cover

September 5, 2007

Here’s something I always find interesting. Recently my fabulous book club read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had mixed feelings about the book (although I mostly liked it), but because I am a design geek, I was more interested in the cover design (authors everywhere, I apologize).

Eat Pray LoveI really liked the design of my book. Nice minimal, contemporary design, reflective of this contemporary story. Unique and appropriate use of objects as letterforms. Just a really cool and inviting cover design.

Eat Pray Love Large Type Not so my friend’s version of Eat Pray Love. She had the large type version (not because she has vision problems, but because it was the only version available at the library.) Apparently people who need larger type are also treated to an eyesore of a cover. Blech. Ugly pictures, ugly (though legible) type. All around bad.

So I did a little research. I came across this alternate cover design, which I believe was the predecessor to the cover I had:

Eat Pray Love alt

Which I think is a pretty good cover, but nothing fantastic. And this version, which I found on a German website:

Eat Pray Love German What I find so interesting about this are the subtle differences between this version and the American market one. The type here is white, versus the orange and ornamented pink type of the American version (which will now be referred to as the AV). This version has a serif face, not the bold sans serif of the AV. And look closely — the silhouette of the woman is different. I find this change the most interesting of all, and I can’t figure out why they changed it.

To round this out, here are two additional versions I found, one in Chinese, one in another Asian language (sorry I don’t know which one). Different markets, very different designs:

Eat Pray Love Japanese? Eat Pray Love Chinese

And the reason why I’d care enough to even find out about these different versions is the reason why I am a graphic designer. Because, really, does the cover really matter? It does to me.

3 Excellent Comments

  1. This is really intriguing. I feel the urge now to go and compare the covers on my copy of The Odd Sea, which a former colleague wrote, and the Dutch-language copy he gave me.

    I am fascinated to see these different covers and to ponder to what extent the individual cultures – vs. the different designers – influenced each one. And to wonder if it is just a canny understanding of MY culture on the part of the American designer that makes me prefer the top design you posted.

    Comment by elizasmom — September 6, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

  2. One of the things that drives me crazy as a designer is that sometime a book is turned into a movie, and they’ll often rerelease the book with a movie poster-esque new cover design, featuring the stars of the movie. I can’t think of a time when it improved the cover — they’re usually really ugly. But it increases the sales of the book, and that’s why the design and marketing departments are often at odds. The marketing department usually wins.

    Comment by Leslie Tane Design — September 6, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  3. Fairly good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and needed to say that I have really loved studying your weblog posts.Any means Sick be subscribing to your feed and I hope you publish again soon.

    Comment by Bernice Opitz — May 21, 2011 @ 12:50 am

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