Guest Post: “CD Covers”
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
by Marc Nash
This wasn’t the post I intended to write.
Originally I wanted to post my top 10 album covers and extol the art. But I couldn’t come up with 10. I stopped buying LPs what ten, twelve years ago? CD covers being much smaller didn’t quite cut it and now downloads don’t even require covers if you don’t opt for the thumbnail.
I’m just in the process of commissioning two different book covers and some modern-day majuscule calligraphy. The majuscules won’t be able to be replicated online in any useful way, so that’s destined for a print only project. The other two are book covers for kindle books I aim to have out soon.
But do I need covers for kindle editions, other than a thumbnail for online browsing? When you download, you get a poorly contrasted black and white washed out version of your original coloured design, which does no favours to any conception you might have had. There is of course no need for spine or back cover artwork either. Of course one could go to other e-service providers and maybe retain the integrity of the cover design. But what would be the point?
In the same way, perhaps more so, that I couldn’t come up with 10 album covers, classical book covers also turn out to be less than precious. Kafka, Burroughs, Camus, anyone you care to mention are forever being reissued in new editions with different covers each time. My Penguin Classic Camus, all have covers bearing artwork not commissioned for the book, paintings by Magritte, Picasso and Masson merely offering some tangential relationship to the title.
All my Salinger paperbacks were in an edition from 30 years ago, where the covers were just plain silver-grey, unadorned by anything but title and author name. My “Catcher In The Rye” recently fell apart from old age, so I replaced it and the cover is now some red and white combo, with a black strip for the calligraphy. It really doesn’t matter a jot.
Book covers may once have mattered when browsing in a bookshop, but now? Kindle certainly places no value on them. And yet I would be loath to stop working with book designers and graphic artists and give them my commissions, because to me the cover is part of the book qua artefact.
I love what the designers bring to the table. Exactly what is being eroded by the trend towards e-versions. Maybe one day my modern-day majuscules can be read on an e-reader. But until then, I will continue to strive to place part of the book’s conception and creativity upon its cover(s).