Sunday, June 25, 2006

Paperback covers

I'm plotting out a script, as I occasionally touch on. I've recently found myself returning to the concept of the classic paperback cover idea I'd played with a while back. I was briefly concerned that this wouldn't match the Point Blank, The Long Goodbye look I'd also been thinking of, however looking at them, I see that many are exactly that.

Some have intense focus on bright color, by focusing it on very specific colored elements.

Sometimes the focus is one an intriguingly positioned foreground figure...

Sometimes they seem to tell a whole story in themselves, regardless of what the merits of that story might be...

While others seem to leave more questions than answers.

Some are lurid.

Some use the human body as more of a design element than character suggestion.

But they all make me happy on some level or another. I love the types of faces and the odd angles they look at the world from. I love the drama. I love the way they draw me in and make me want to pick them up and learn more.

You can imagine that there's some complex reasons why the general populace doesn't read for pleasure as much as they once did. I'm quite convinced its the banal covers that do nothing to make the potential reader turn to the shelf to take a look or pick it up to read the back.

The books out there are designed to appeal to the people who are already reading regularly. Look at the books by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. It's a fine imprint. I own a number of the books they publish and I'm glad they've been made available, but they're covers almost apologize for their content. They ooze with the look of "No, I'm definitely literature, I cost $14.99 and I have a vaguely arty black and white photograph, its ok to own me."

Thank God, the people at Hard Case Crime get it. It's just too bad they don't have the distribution to get on the shelves of every grocery and convenience store across the country.


Sleestak said...

Yay. Great post. I collect those paperbooks just for the cover art.

Neil said...

Thanks a lot.

That is excellent. I'd love to have a really amazing collection of old paperbacks... especially some of the wonderful covers selling books of some literary renown. in the sleaziest way possible. Those make me unbelievably happy... even if I didn't cover any here (outside a couple that have built reputations after their origins as pulp).

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