In the e-book world, are book covers a dying art? : NPR

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A portfolio of Chip Kidd’s favorite book covers

Book designer Chip Kidd chooses his favorite covers from his personal portfolio.

It used to be that a reader might choose a book because the cover was exciting, intriguing, even beautiful. But in the brave new world of e-books and e-readers, the days when an artist named Chip Kidd could make us reach for a book may be over.

Chip Kidd, associate art director at publisher Alfred A. Knopf, has penned a new graphic novel titled Batman: Death by Design.

Courtesy of Chip Kidd


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Courtesy of Chip Kidd


Chip Kidd, associate art director at publisher Alfred A. Knopf, has penned a new graphic novel titled Batman: Death by Design.

Courtesy of Chip Kidd

Kidd, associate art director at publisher Alfred A. Knopf, has designed book covers for the past 25 years for authors like Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, David Sedaris and Michael Crichton. Remember the menacing Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on movie posters for jurassic park? The original version was Kidd’s cover design for the novel.

Earlier this year, Kidd gave a TED talk on the art of book design. He told the audience that while e-books are convenient, the burgeoning world of digital publishing risks losing “tradition, a sensual experience, the convenience of machinery, [and] a bit of humanity.”

Yet, as Kidd tells NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, all books — e-books, hardcovers, or paperbacks — need covers.

“They need some sort of visual representation, whether you see them the size of a postage stamp on a computer screen or smartphone, or sitting on a table, on a shelf, or in a bookstore,” did he declare. said.

A veteran of the book publishing industry, Kidd understands that his book designs must ultimately help serve the bottom line. His designs can be effective in helping new titles stand out in a bookstore window, but in the online marketplace, a beautifully designed cover can only get you so far.

“People don’t buy a book on the web because of the cover,” says Kidd. “They’ll buy a book on the web because they read a review or because it’s word of mouth or a combination of both.”

But he’s not afraid to stick to old-fashioned methods.

“Hardcover books are, frankly, luxury items, and they kind of always have been,” he says. “And I think there will be a market for them.”

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