Inspiring Older Readers

posted on 02 May 2021

Book Cover Design by Matthew Goodman

You’ll find plenty of other articles on this site that trumpet the merits of great book design. It’s also the case that we tend to associate that art-form with the great book jacket designers of the pre-digital era rather than give a fair and proper recognition to the new generation of artists. This book sets out to put that right.

The thoughtful and sharp foreword written by Nicole Caputo – herself a designer of book covers – makes the undeniable point that rather than auger the end of the print book, digital texts have encouraged publishers and design artists to step up their game. I would suggest that the past handful of years has been something of a golden age of book design and the results are there for everyone to see. They have turned the book into an object of desire – not simply for the words contained therein but as objets de vertu in their own right. As a consequence of this wholehearted commitment to great, imaginative design standards, the great classical designers of the past are also revivified as the new generation reference and sample their work.

Matthew Goodman, who put this book together, works as a designer for the publishers, Schiffer and he has clearly used his insider knowledge and connections to harvest this fascinating gallery of new work. The book showcases the work of 50 individual designers or design collectives and although the majority of them are based in the US, it’s fair to say that their work is global.

What Goodman does here though is to allow the book designs to do most of the talking. The short pen portraits of the designers themselves are kept brief on the assumption, I would suppose, that those of us likely to be interested in this book will always be more fascinated by the book designs than by the biographies of those who produced them. A very wise move.

It must be a thankless task to narrow each contributor’s examples down to a handful of designs and so it would also be invidious to suggest that there could be any hierarchy of achievement here – the most anyone could legitimately say is that they have favourites. I have mine but I’m not sure that sharing those with you would add anything to a review of this kind. Taste is idiosyncratic and it would be best to leave you to exercise your own without my intervention.

The book is available in a large format paperback and I expect you’ll have to pay the best part of £20 to get a copy but I think you’ll find it worth the money if, like me, book jacket design is a lasting fascination.


Terry Potter

May 2021