Don’t Judge a Book by its Couverture

photograph courtesy of Kiwolah
photograph courtesy of Kiwolah

On the last page of this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review is a rather enlightening article on the branding of best-selling American authors. The piece examines the exhaustive process publishers go through to design the books of celebrity authors. Everyone seems to have a hand in the creation of the all-important cover: publishers, art directors, marketing teams, sometimes even the authors themselves.

Meanwhile, in France, American-born Jonathan Littell’s fictional World War II memoir Les Bienveillantes won the coveted 2006 Prix Goncourt and rested atop the French best-seller list throughout France’s rentrée literaire, or literary season. The novel won with a cover devoid of eye-catching imagery, in line with the French preference for substance over style when it comes to book covers. See for yourselves:

Once Les Bienveillantes hits American shelves it will undoubtedly do so with a shiny cover and big, bold print. But in France, a book cover is just a book cover, and the subtlety of packaging allows what’s inside to speak for itself.

About the author

Enchanted by maps at a young age, Michael's first voyages were of the unglamourous variety (think Florida, Subarus, and talking mice). It was in an Australian hostel, while sleeping on a bare mattress, that he discovered the value of quality budget travel. Following a six month sejour on Australia's Sunshine Coast, Michael finished his studies at Hunter College in New York and moved to Paris. In Paris, Mike edits and writes for The Paris Times and checks out cheap sleeps for EuroCheapo. When not walking the streets of Paris pretending to be Ernest Hemingway, Michael enjoys penning short stories and playing the didjeridoo.
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