Yesterday, author Gabrielle Zevin told us about her dystopian teen novel, All These Things I've Done—which underwent a makeover between the hardcover and paperback editions. Today, we hear from the designers behind the makeover. Two Creative Directors worked on All These Things I’ve Done. Anne Diebel designed the hardcover jacket for Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, and Rich Deas designed the paperback jacket for Square Fish.

Here, they tell us about their reasons for the change and the impact of book jackets.

Why did you decide to go in a drastically different direction with the paperback jacket art of All These Things I’ve Done—from a simple, subtle design, to something graphic, futuristic and urban?
Anne Diebel: Typically you approach the design of the hardcover version of a book differently than the paperback. They are directed at different audiences. The hardcover version comes out first and will be reviewed. The paperback is a more commercial sale with a lower price point. There is also an opportunity to rethink your approach when you design the paperback since it publishes later than the hardcover. It’s a second chance. Each of these reasons bore on the decision to redesign All These Things I’ve Done. It was fun to see my friend Rich Deas reinterpret the work. He has a beautiful sensibility.

Rich Deas: In general, I am a big fan of a well-concepted cover that captures the essence of a story in a simple, straightforward manner. So, I do very much like the original hardcover design. But, this approach can be fairly quiet in mass market. This is often the case for paperback covers but it gives us the opportunity to provide a new package for a wider, mass audience. We chose to visually capture the beauty and strength of the story’s main character, Anya Balanchine, and hint at the troubled world she lives in.

How much of an impact do you think cover art has on a book’s sales?
Anne Diebel: If a book sells well, the jacket had no impact at all. If it sells poorly, the jacket was all-important. Did that sound cynical? In fact, in either case, the jacket is critically important as it is the initial lure cast out to the book buyer. It’s the one and only first impression.

Rich Deas: I do think a cover is important to the sale of the book. The main goal is to truly capture the vibe of the book and relate it to its intended audience. There are many great cover designs out there so the cover really needs to stand out amongst the others. The cover in a sense is the advertisement for the story and we hope the cover attracts an audience.

What is your personal favorite cover you’ve ever designed? Favorite book jacket of 2011? Of all time?
Anne Diebel: It is very difficult to pick one favorite design of my own, as my memory in each case is colored by the amount of fun I had or did not have designing that book. Scrawl is one I did recently that I like quite a bit. There were so many wonderful designs done this year. I can take it down to two favorites. I remember being startled by how lovely and different Wither looked. The whole package was beautiful. Lizzy Bromley designed that one. I also loved the look of A Taste of Chlorine, which Colleen Venable designed. I can’t pick a favorite jacket design of all time that would be true every time you asked me. I just can’t.

Rich Deas: I honestly can never answer that question. I haven’t designed a cover I could call a “favorite.” I get excited about the process of reading a manuscript and trying to create a viable visual that represents the feel of the story and is interesting enough to attract readers. But once I’m done, I move on to the next title and get caught up with a new manuscript and the process starts all over—this is the endless cycle. But, at this early stage, before it is complete, it could be considered a favorite. Best cover of 2011: The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer. Two covers that I really admire are Violence by Slavoj Zizek, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Thank you, Anne and Rich! Readers: Do you judge a book by its cover? See our favorite book jackets of 2011 and 2010 on the blog.

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