03 August 2010

Cover evolution

A few weeks ago I looked at several covers & how they vary by country. One of those covers was 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'.

A recent article looks a the development of the startling yellow US cover. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group wasn't sure how the international covers would work in the US market so cover designer Peter Mendelsund got the job of reworking it. For three months he prepared nearly 50 distinct designs. Below are a selection of its iterations.

- An early option used the title "The Man Who Hated Women," which is closer to the original Swedish title. Mr. Mendelsund liked the image of an anonymous woman, with its "contrast between the softness of her face and the way it has been shredded." But the title went out—for fear, Knopf says, that it would be "problematic" in a U.S. market—and the jacket did, too.

This option utilizes blind deboss, where the typeface is indented (no ink). The only colour here is the blood-red splotches. It was rejected as too monochromatic & difficult to read.

- A contrast to the previous lack of colour. It was deemed to traditional for the genre. It also felt more like Bangkok than Stockholm.

-This jacket returns to Swedish sensibility & the sparse & abandoned cloth woods indicate a mystery. However it was deemed to far from the US market.

- A return to the theme of snow, again it was turned down due to lack of colour.

- Back to colour, but this one gave everyone a headache.

- Very like the final cover. A pattern in the background like a tattoo, the colours are more flesh-like. Hues the designer still prefers to this day, he feels they have more depth.

- The final choice :)

Not everyone loved the jacket. Knopf said there was "some pushback" from retailers, as well as members of the publishing house's sales team, who were looking for a more conventional depiction in lines with other thrillers—something darker, bloodier, "more Scandinavian."

However, the goal was achieved. This cover stands out and stops the books being pigeonholed.

Hope you enjoyed that little journey through the cover design process. Catch you next week :)

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