About a year ago I was home visiting my parents and the local library was having a book sale (I can smell a book sale a mile away…haha). I’ve gotten into this bad habit of buying books based on their covers the further down the graphic design rabbit hole I get. That has burned me several times (the story was a bit predictable, but at least the designer tried to save the book with an awesome cover!) but has been a hit more often than one might think. So I picked up A Beautiful Girl: Short Stories by Alice Adams. I thought the font was interesting and looked very Art Nouveau. For 50 cents I became it’s proud new owner.
I never touched it again for a whole year. It just sat on the bedside table and I never even cracked it’s spine. I was either too busy or I bought other books and it slowly made its way to the bottom of the stack. However, it recently found it’s way to the top. I was laying in bed, reading it and while the story was interesting, I just couldn’t forget about the cover. It had such a specific style and I had never seen that font before. I skipped to the back of the book and I literally started laughing out loud when I read who had created this great book cover: Louise Fili (bio here). For those non designers out there Louise Fili is probably one of the best known book jacket (along with other design) designers. I felt like I had stumbled upon something pretty special. This book was published in 1975, right when Fili was working for Alfred A. Knopf Publishing.
I know of all the books that Fili has designed/co-written, but to find something that she designed early on in her career, well I was nothing short of excited. I have heard from several designers, including Chip Kidd, that book cover designers get a rare chance to actually sign their name to their work. Most graphic designers never do that.
My 50 cent book went from a discarded binding of pages to a piece of art work that is now safely put into my archive. So the next time you pick up a book, don’t just read what it’s about, or the little bio about the author. Take a gander at the jacket designer. You might be surprised what you find.