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Book Cover design and National Culture

Historically, an unbound book, protected only by its title page was presented to a bookbinder to bind in the style of the customer’s personal library.The hardbacks’ jacket, significantly called ‘dust jacket’, had mainly the functional purpose of protecting the book itself. The first paperback editions, already on the market in the mid–nineteenth century, were intended simply as cheaper and handier reprints for people involved in long journeys. The cover was nothing more than an element of their physical framework, displaying the minimum information required: author, title, editor and, sometimes, price. With the development of marketing techniques at the beginning of the twentieth century, books, as any other good, began to have a proper package bearing an advertising and commercial value. Nowadays, book covers are considered the key element in the purchasing decision, not only in the selling–out process (i.e. to the consumer), but also in the selling–in one (from the publishers to the retailers), to the point that art directors believe that a cover can be considered a failure if it doesn’t succeed in at least 10 making a potential buyer pick up the book within thirty seconds of locating it .The cover thus is transformed into a complex element, fulfilling various tasks.If it’s true that its design firstly has to attract the attention of the consumer in the mass of similar goods in a bookshop,it is also true that it has to communicate a message about the book,and in such a way as to stimulate the purchase. More and more book purchases are becoming part of impulse buying, as the book is increasingly commodified and almost deprived of its elite aura by the cultural industry. In fact,unless we are looking for a certain title,our intention to buy a book is aroused more immediately by its appealing image than the literary value of its prose. While designers and critics seem to all agree on the importance of the role played by the cover in the marketing of books, an ongoing debate discusses whether its design should be based on the concept of corporate image or on the more eclectic idea of book identity.The two positions appear to reflect the essential differences between the European and American approaches to cover design and their relation to the object book. The differences have been noticed by various critics and designers, but never studied in depth.This thesis aims to systematically analyse European, British and American publishers’ philosophies of book design, first through their historical development and contemporary outcomes, then by comparing and contrasting their approaches to the design of the same book.

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Historically, an unbound book, protected only by its title page was presented to a bookbinder to bind in the style of the customer’s personal library.The hard- backs’ jacket, significantly called ‘dust jacket’, had mainly the functional purpose of protecting the book itself. The first paperback editions, already on the market in the mid–nineteenth century, were in- tended simply as cheaper and handier reprints for people involved in long journeys. The cover was nothing more than an element of their physical framework, displaying the minimum information re- quired: author, title, editor and, sometimes, price. With the development of marketing techniques at the beginning of the twentieth century, books, as any other good, began to have a proper package bearing an advertising and commercial value. Nowadays, book covers are considered the key element in the purchasing decision, not only in the selling–out pro- cess (i.e. to the consumer), but also in the selling–in one (from the publishers to the retailers), to the point that art directors believe that a cover can be considered a failure if it doesn’t succeed in at least 10 making a potential buyer pick up the book within thirty seconds of locating it 1 .The cover thus is trans- formed into a complex element, fulfilling various tasks. If it’s true that its design firstly has to attract the attention of the consumer in the mass of similar goods in a bookshop, it is also true that it has to com- municate a message about the book, and in such a way as to stimulate the purchase. More and more book purchases are becoming part of impulse buying, as the book is increasingly commodified and almost de- prived of its elite aura by the cultural industry. In fact, unless we are looking for a certain title, our in- tention to buy a book is aroused more immediately by its appealing image than the literary value of its prose. While designers and critics seem to all agree on the importance of the role played by the cover in the marketing of books, an ongoing debate discusses whether its design should be based on the concept of corporate image or on the more eclectic idea of book identity.The two positions appear to reflect the es- sential differences between the European and  Introduction 1 Fiona Carpenter, quoted in Redhead, David,‘The 30 – second Sell’, Eye vol. n.,Autumn ,p.

Tesi di Laurea

Facoltà: Design e Arti

Autore: Gea Colombo Contatta »

Composta da 73 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 1986 click dal 04/06/2004.

 

Consultata integralmente 3 volte.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.