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Somebody, pinch me

Let me list the reasons I hate the Kindle:

They look too sterile.

You can’t flip pages.

You can’t write in them.

They only come in one typeface.

And you can’t see the cover.

Chip Kidd, possibly the most prominent book jacket designers as well as an editor and novelist, agrees.

“As long as it’s 400 bucks and looks like something you would use to test your glucose levels…it will have limited appeal,” but still, his art is at stake with the growing popularity of ebooks.

Book cover designers read the entire book and come up with the first thing you see on the shelf. People even choose the best typeface to set the book in. Who does that on a Kindle? No one. No one does it. Kindles only come in one typeface.

Authors have certain designers that they trust with their books, and seeing that Kidd is only46 and has designed 1500 covers, I’m sure he is on the top of several lists.

Kidd has an interesting analogy.

“It’s sort of like being Gwyneth Paltrow and having your favorite hairdresser…that person helps make you look good and so you’re going to hang on to them. They’re going to mean a lot to you.”

Book cover design isn’t advertising, it’s an introduction. It’s a tone set by the designer.

“I don’t think people buy a book because of the jacket… It’s like name tags at single parties. That will just introduce you to the other person, then the person themselves has to take over. So the book jacket is sort of like, ‘Hi. My name is Bob.’ But then I have to get to know Bob to see if I want to take this further.’”

Everyone who looks at a Kidd’s work wants to get to know the book better.

Kidd recently designed the cover for Nabokov’s notes for a book he was writing when he died, “The Original of Laura.” With the monumental sentiment of the task, they could only approach the work as an artifact.

The art of book covers, just like the art of album covers, might dwindle, but as of yet, ebooks have not taken off like mp3s, and hopefully they won’t.

“I get worried that people wont be given a choice because of paper costs, you will get this book as an ebook or you won’t get it at all,” Kidd said.

Even Vignelli (in my last post) says books are dead–and he used to design them. (Although they weren’t anything to write home about.) I haven’t seen a mass number of people walking around with Kindles under their arm. If books are headed to extinction, I’ll believe it when I see it.

The cover of Newsweek a couple years ago said, “Books aren’t dead; they’re just going digital.” But then, won’t the art of the book be gone? Kidd said, “Yeah, just by definition because it won’t be an object anymore. It won’t be a thing…as an object it will be gone if it only exists online.”

Here is Chip Kidd’s work, and here’s the interview I got all the quotes from:


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