East, West, love, intrigue, crime: what does the cover need to say. Mmm, very difficult. I tried something that would put across in a fairly literal way, what the story is about. So . . . four characters in front of a view of London. Some kindly folks said ‘that’s nice’ some more frank characters including Mark, my husband, said ‘berk — very nasty, boring’ and other gut reaction words. End result, a painting of mine that I made a few years back, called ‘Lifemap’ which is fact about being in and leaving London. It possibly could lose out on the visual impact in some ways, especially when reduced to the size of a large-ish peanut on the internet, but it feels right.
What books have I picked up and got as far as the till with, on account of a cover. Not many.The only one I can think of off hand was ‘Keep the aspidistra flying’, it was just such a lovely painting of the said plant in a suitably shadowy front room. A cover might intrigue for a moment: turn the book over, scan the blurb then open the book and read the first few lines: is there an impulse to continue, or not. ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949) — that’s a good one: read on . . .why were they?
Looking on the internet is a different process. The cover intrigues. You click and are invited to LOOK INSIDE, but for me anyway, there are things missing. The smell of ink, the feel of the pages, the type style used. I don’t actually buy books very often, (Mark compensating for that) but when I do, I wait for the bookshop. Preferably a small one without a chain coffee shop lurking in the corner.
Oh, I’ve just thought of another favourite cover. Will Self’s ‘Book of Dave’ Cleverly printed as if it has faded scumbled edges, in an aged pinky-red colour as if left on the back shelf of a car in the sun.
Looks rather more orange here