Typography Diary: Second entry on Book Design

So as I promised myself, here is my second post on certain book cover designs that I thought did a good job in catching my eye. As I have found I keep falling victim to my overzealous ambition to cover too much, I will keep it short from here on.

This time I did not intentionally go out of my way to find yet another Dostoyevsky book, but putting a bunch of books on a shelf, I was very pleased to happen upon this yellow florescent gem, and could not pass the chance of showing it off. I believe this is an example of modern graphic design at its best.


This edition was published by Harper Perennial in 2009, in a series of similar designed books, according to Amazon.

First we can see that this is indeed a design which is based on a grid. We  have a sans serif of the author’s name, which is broken in two halves, with a tiny first name aligned horizontally, which then falls in a vertical, bigger heavier sized typeface.The bottom edge of the text is perfectly aligned with the bottom edge of the picture of the author, which effectively indicates who the person on the inside is.  The direction of the text then leads to the title, which is a thinner condensed version of the typeface, which has nice tracking and leading in the two lines. Then lastly, this leads horizontally to a tiny subheading, in same weight.  Notice how all words properly aligned themselves to the right bottom corner of that subheading and their choice of weights and size creates a clear hierarchy of most important, to secondary importance, and finally third importance.  One can see the significant role white space is playing between all element as well. The text elements create a box outside the single picture of the author, which stands a good distance away from the texts, and the bottom line of the standing image aligns diagonally in the direction of the bottom right corner. The contrast between 2-d text and 3-d image adds a popping out effect, with the yellow neon cover creating a contextual popping out as one compares the unusual contrast between  the application of bright colors, and the serious content of the book. According to Amazon, the publishers intent was to “attract contemporary fans of short fiction to these revered masters of the form”, which means… they were trying to get a hold of a generation’s short attention span. Catch em with the colors! But seriously it’s  is very clean, forthright design which I feel says “It’s Dostoyevsky, need we really say more?”, as well as “Seen this dude before? Well, now you know–you already know stuff!”

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