Monday, January 28, 2013

Lousy Book Covers

The internet is a big place. So it shouldn't still surprise me when I find out about a site that's been around for a while and is right up my alley, though I've never heard of it.

Such is Lousy Book Covers. Its creator trawls the book pages of looking for clueless cover art. And boy, is there some clueless stuff out there.

The covers mostly fall into one of (or in some cases more than one of!) these categories:

  • Extremely bad artwork 
  • Unreadable or painful typography
  • Utter incomprehsibility
The fonts used are almost exclusively either free fonts or ones that came standard with a computer operating system. Lots of Sand, Comic Sans, Papyrus, Curlz, Verdana, and Impact.

A few fine examples from the painfully many available:

This one combines bad use of photography with bad color, a bad typeface choice, too many titles, and the worst use of vertically stacked type I think I've ever seen. (Stacking type vertically is generally not recommended because the varying widths of the letters make it hard to read and awkward.) What is the name of the book? Who is the author? After some analysis, it finally became clear that the type stacked in the left column is supposed to say "Aim High" even though the designer has used a lowercase "L" instead of a lowercase "I." Is Aim High the author's name? I'm still not sure.

Bad artwork is probably the most common problem. I'm glad that people try their hand at drawing, but it's another thing to publish it on the front of a book.

Then there are the ones that you can't even read.

And the ones that have eyes coming out of Lincoln's nose.

And the ones who think they can use a little tiny scan and blow it up as big as they want and the pixels will just magically appear.

A few are not bad designs -- they suffer only from bad art.

But most have both bad art and bad design. I love how this designer made sure we could read the title and subtitle, don't you?

I can imagine the chagrin of having your book posted on Lousy Book Covers. But from what I've seen on the site, there are only a few covers included that could be considered even marginally acceptable in a bookstore. You have to learn some time.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Curse you, DN3! I followed the link, and couldn't drag myself away for over an hour. When my students ask why I didn't finish grading their test, what can I possibly tell them?