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Monday, January 11, 2010

And That, As They Say, Is That

After almost 5 years and 1,112 posts, I've decided to put The BDR on indefinite hiatus.

It's been a great ride. I've enjoyed almost every minute of it. But the joy of discovering and sharing has, over the past few months, become the tedium of finding and posting. So it's time to stop. I might resurrect The BDR if it feels right, or I might blog about something else. It's too early to tell.

2009 was a wonderful year, and I can't thank you enough for showing up: a third of a million visits from 190 countries yielded just shy of 640,000 page views. 3 of those visits came from Nuuk, Greenland. Thank you, Nuuk :-)

Follow me on Twitter (@theBDR) for book-related (and other) stuff, and satisfy your book design jones over at The Casual Optimist, Faceout Books, and The Book Cover Archive. Those guys are the best.

Again, my heartfelt thanks for 5 fun years. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Peeing Hamsters

(I'm on vacation this week, so posting will be limited. But I thought it might be fun to re-publish a favorite post and ask again: what book do you really hate?)

OK, enough of looking at book covers for a day or two. The Guardian's Stuart Evers has written a very, very funny article about "the good side of bad books." It's a hoot, and you should read it now.

But then you should come back here and tell us about the one (or two) novels that made you want to set yourself on fire, punch yourself in the face, or question why you learned to read in the first place.

I'll go first. After being hounded by my sci-fi-inclined friends for years, I read Robert Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land. When done, I immediately went out and bought two hamsters and a cage so that something could rip that book apart and pee on it. If there was an editor within 50 miles of that thing, I'll eat my shorts. I'll eat yours too.

I'm not anti-science fiction. I don't read a whole bunch of it, but I don't have a problem with it per se. J.G. Ballard holds a special place on my bookshelves. But this book? Ugh. I wish I remembered more about why I hated it so deeply, but I do trust my memory of discomfort and loathing.

OK. I'm done. Your turn.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Favorite Book Covers of 2009

In no particular order, here are my favorite book covers of 2009. (And here are the 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 lists.) Titles are linked to the original post, if one exists, and there's a poll.

A big thank you to The Book Table, RiverRun Bookstore, and WORD for their lists.

And thank you, readers, for a great '09.

The Great Perhaps, design by Jamie Keenan:

The Double Life is Twice as Good, design by Rex Bonomelli:

Cheers! A History of Beer in Canada, design by David Gee:

Tiepolo Pink, design by Peter Mendelsund:

The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime, illustration by Jaya Miceli:

Perforated Heart, design by Jason Heuer (some great photos here):

The Book of Dead Philosophers, design by John Gall:

Experimental Geography, design by Kelly Blair:

Valkyrie, design by Jason Booher (better image here):

K Blows Top, design by Pete Garceau:

Nineteen-Eighty Four, UK edition, design by Gray318 (full wrap, etc. here):

Impossible Motherhood, design by Carin Goldberg:

How to Be Inappropriate, design by Alvaro Villanueva:

Columbine, design by Henry Sene Yee:

Chronic City, UK edition, design by Miriam Rosenbloom:

Monday, December 14, 2009

But If We Were Looking at Spines, This Would Be The Best Spine of the Year

I didn't want this to get lost in The Book Table's favorite covers of 2009 post. Jason from The Book Table wrote this; I love it. Jason, have you seen this?

"Our assignment was to pick 15 covers and comment on them if we wished. We think the covers speak for themselves, so instead of talking about them, we want to mention what we think was the most amazing piece of book design of the year. As much as we'd like to choose Chip Kidd's design of The Original of Laura, which we loved, or any of the designs done by Chris Ware, Oak Park's very own genius, we think the design of The Hemingses of Monticello is the best design of the year.

We know that most books that we sell in the store are sold because of their spine and we know that of the thousands of books in our home, only a few at anytime have their covers displayed. Because of this, we spend a lot of time thinking about spines. The Hemingses of Monticello is the first book that we ever remember seeing that has award medals on the spine. It's a brilliant idea and makes it irresistible to everyone that goes near it."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part Three: The Book Table, Oak Park, IL

The third and final list of favorite covers from independent booksellers, in this case, hometown favorite The Book Table in Oak Park, Illinois. They've chosen some wonderful covers from small, university and foreign publishers, so help me out with the credits if you can. In most cases, the titles are linked to The Book Table's online store, in case you're in a shopping mood.

Again, as in past weeks, there's a poll at the bottom. Vote for your favorite.

After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, designer credit to come:

Waltenberg, designer credit to come:

Never Trust a Thin Cook, designer credit to come:

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, designer credit to come:

The Prince, design by Jaya Miceli:

We Saw the Light, design and illustration by Brad Norr:

Land of Necessity, design by Heather Hensley:

The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?, design by Alison Forner:

Hysteria Complicated by Ecstasy, design credit to come:

Invisible, design by Lisa Fyfe:

Planisphere, designer credit to come:

Arcana & Other Poems, design by Tony Frazer, photo by Alex Nikada:

Absinthe and Flamethrowers, design by Joan Sommers Design:

Nineteen Seventy-Seven, design by Gregg Kulick:

Nineteen-Seventy Four
, design by Gregg Kulick:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part Two: RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, NH

Here's the second of this year's Favorite Covers of 2009 posts, chosen by some of the staff members of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH. Some contributors chose to let the covers speak for themselves, others provided some words about their choices.

The first post is here. And like last week, there's a poll.

RiverRun's favorites are:

Time, design by Henry Sene Yee:

Let the Great World Spin; design by Robbin Schiff & Anna Bauer, drawing by Matteo Pericoli (full wrap over here): "The delicately drawn city cuts a slice in the cover, much like the beautiful slivers of lives inside the book."

The Death of Bunny Munro, design by Charlotte Strick: "An evil bratty bunny! In no way does this indicate that it will garner a "Bad Sex in a Book" nomination."

Animals and Objects In and Out of Water, illustration by Jay Ryan: "Are they animals? Or are they stuffed animals come to life? Are they sweet, or evil, or both??"

Yummy, illustration by Lucy Cousins: "Incredibly kinetic, this cover let's you know it's not going to be fairy tale business as usual."

Pictorial Webster's, design by John Carrera:

The Great Perhaps, design by Jamie Keenan:

The Housekeeper and the Professor, design by Henry Sene Yee (full wrap here):

The Gone-Away Word, design by Evan Gaffney (full wrap here): "Equally as awesome as the fuzzy pink and green hardcover, this zooming orange design perfectly sums up the ride you're taken on."

Chronic City, design by Rodrigo Corral:

Beat the Reaper, design by Ploy Siripant:

The Bedside Book of Beasts, design by CS Richardson:

The Anthologist, design by Jason J. Heuer: "Simple, elegant, and the plum is actually referred to in the story."

Alphabeasties, design credit to come:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY

As announced a few weeks ago, I've asked three independent bookstores to contribute to this year's Favorite Covers of 2009 coverage. Here are the selections from the staff of WORD in Brooklyn, NY. Three more lists (including my selections) are on the way.

The only guideline I asked the good folks at WORD to follow was to limit their selections to books published this year, so I was glad to see them include some YA and children's books -- I don't get around to discussing either genre very often.

I couldn't chase down all the design credits, so if you know something I don't, please set me on the right track so that I can give proper credit for this fantastic work. And of course correct me if I've gotten something wrong.

There's a poll at the bottom of the post: vote for your favorite. The top three vote-getting designs from this list will eventually join the other favorites from the upcoming lists in a final poll.

Lastly: each title is linked to WORD's online store. Something tickling your fancy? Support indie bookstores and buy from them.

WORD's favorite covers of the year, in no particular order, are:

Wuthering Heights, design by Ruben Toledo: "This is our favorite of the three covers Toledo did for Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions."

The Sickness Unto Death, design by David Pearson: "This is really a shout-out to the entire line-up of the newest installment of the Penguin Great Ideas series, though this is probably our favorite cover of the bunch. These are some of the most irresistible book covers I have ever seen. They're all embossed. Almost everyone who looks at them touches them and then moans ecstatically."

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, design by Christopher Brand: "This made our top 10 last month, probably solely on the strength of the cover."

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, design by Barbara de Wilde: "We love the new Nabokov covers, and this is our favorite of the bunch."

Seven Nights, design by Rodrigo Corral: "Love this so much that I continually re-display it just to look at it."

Pure, design by Cara Petrus: "a teen novel about purity rings and the girls who wear them (and a girl who breaks her pledge). "

The Book of Fathers: design by John Gall, collage by Nicole Natri: "The men and the arms on the cover are raised. It's possible we just like this because it looks like the art of a former employee. Didn't love it at first, but it has really grown on us since it came in, to the point that now we love it."

Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image
; design by Mark Abrams, cover image by Jim Fitzpatrick, original photo by Alberto Korda: "There could be no better cover for a book about history's most reproduced image."

The Children's Book, design by Stephen Parker, "adapted by Gabrielle Wilson" (per the jacket): "A beautiful cover that only gets more beautiful after you've read the book."

(I snapped this to show some of the detail; there's a much better photo here):

The City Out My Window: "The only die-cut we will ever like in this store (we hate die cuts because they inevitably rip on the floor, no matter what you do with them, and then nobody wants to buy them). But this one is thick cardboard, and obviously a perfect choice of a book of window pictures."

The End of Food, design by Mark Robinson: "Love when the paperback is way better than the hardcover."

The Lion and the Mouse, designer by Saho Fuji: "Not sure if this one counts, but we love it."

The Most Beautiful Book in the World, design by Emanuele Ragnisco: "Even though it feels kind of busy on this cover, the image is just so great."

Never Smile At A Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember, design by Scott Magoon, illustration by Steve Jenkins: "Even though it kinda scares me."