Category Archives: Book Covers

Armada by Ernest Cline

Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown, 2015
Where I heard about this book: I received this book directly from the publisher.

Armada blasts through the haze of the past couple of decades and gives us a look back to the sci-fi stories of the 1980s. Just about every page of Cline’s book drips with tropes, cliches and plot lines of well known movies and stories. You’ll find yourself smiling as characters in Armada quote lines and rally behind battle cries heard first from Activision and Atari games.


Armada follows the plight of a soon-to-be high school graduate to the moon and back as he helps defend the Earth from alien invasion. An invasion that is the result of 40 years of US government secrets and black ops. An invasion that will end life on Earth. An invasion that can only be defeated by the best video gamers on the planet as the military has been secretly training Earth’s population on how to control military drones through video games.

The Last Starfighter was one of my favorite movies growing up, which this book certainly mirrors. The same can be said for Ender’s Game which matches pretty close plot-point to plot-point. So you’ll get a kick out of Armada if you enjoyed those two stories. But if you don’t then there’s not much else here for you.

While I really enjoyed Cline’s first book Ready Player One, this book, while making use of all the same vintage hooks, nods and winks that enjoy, lacks a freshness that RPO has. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but the characters in Armada spend too much time making fun of classic sci-fi plot holes and being aware of how their world mimics it all. It never quite goes all out “meta” but it’s darn close.

I’m giving this book two out of five stars, though if you’ve ever called yourself a sci-fi geek it’s one you’ll want to read just for all of the memories. And it’s also worth picking up, in the book store,  just to check out the cover.


Will Staehle nailed it. Just like every good video game there is an easter egg even in the cover… open it up for schematics of the drones. Something every hardcore sci-fi fan appreciates. Kudos to Staehle and team.


Best Book Covers of 2014

The learned and eagle eyed folks over at Design Observer have released their list of the 50 Best Book Covers of 2014. It’s quite a list! There are 50 of them, so click through to see them all.

Seeing this Chip Kidd cover for Murakami online doesn’t do it justice. The colors pop and the die-cut holes to the map below really make this cover. It’s a fun trim size too.



It’s a fun ranking and worth scrolling through. It seems to be a great mix of ones seen often in shops and other lesser known ones that have it made it to the front-of-bookstore tables yet. I’m always glad Design Observer does these lists as I’d miss out on quite a few of these books.

This raised 3D slip cover is C-R-A-Z-Y.


The Best Books ranking/competition goes back around 90 years. Here are the Best Book Covers from previous years as well:

Design Observer also compiles a list of the 50 Best Books of each year, where the whole design is judged and not just the cover. And it’s fun to see who made the list as well, but when online, I enjoy the covers more. Anyway, here’s their choices for 50 Best Books of 2014. To get an idea what this is about, the book ODD VOLUMES got a nod in both the cover competition and the book competition. The folds really show how the book is organized and speaks to the subject of the book which is book art.

I was glad to see The Martian on there as the paper used really made it glitter as if covered in martian dust. So you have 50 to choose from – which book cover is your favorite from last year?

Go Set a Watchman Releases in 4 Weeks

Ok, folks – Harper Lee’s new book hits book store shelves in less than a month, on July 14th. You can pre-order all of the internet or your local bookstore. It’s been fun seeing how awareness of the book has developed. And it all started with the origin of the manuscript and all the questions surrounding that.

Now the covers are out. As with just about any book published today, it’s fun to compare the U.S. cover with the British cover. First, we have the U.S. cover, which seems to be purposefully designed to match the vintage To Kill a Mockingbird cover.

Go Set a Watchman is set 20 years after the end of TKAM, but the cover certainly lets you know you’re in the same place. Here’s the original 1st edition cover:


While over across the pond they seem to have gone a little more modern noir feel I think, but the type is period.

Most of the time I usually prefer the U.K. counterparts to U.S. covers, but this time I’m non-plussed. The fact that the author’s name is set the same as the title feels weird. It’s as if the marketing and design teams could not come to an agreement so they just threw their hands up and said “Make it all the same size” or something.

Though I do like the way they shadowed in the words To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a bit literal for me, but it’s ok.

Both covers have an October harvest vibe as well. Maybe that figures in heavily to the story? We’ll have to wait and find out! It will be interesting to keep up with the reviews once they start rolling out when the book is released on July 14th. And to watch sales numbers. I know some folks took a step back when Harper Lee’s letters didn’t fetch a reserve price at a recent auction, but the crowd that buys million dollar scribbles is a totally different crowd than those waiting to see what Harper Lee has to say about Scout and Atticus.

What do you think of the covers? Have you pre-ordered the book or are you tired of the hype?

Book Designer Paul Bacon Has Died

Paul Bacon is a name that is at the top of all book designer lists. He pioneered many of the looks and styles we see on shelves today. His eye and sense of composition in every 6″x9″ space was amazing.

You can read the full obituary on Paul Bacon, who was 91, here at the NY Times. From what I’ve read, though he is well known for his thought-provoking minimalistic covers he seems like the kind of book jacket designer that was always a designer first and an artist second.  Book designers seem to fall in two categories: the artist – they’ll fight you on your opinion and get angry when you want to “mess up their art” and the designer – a professional that understands there is a mission to accomplish and will employ all the artistic tools to see it happen.

Paul Bacon was one of the greats. No doubt. Here are a few of his now classic book jackets that I bet you’ve seen in bookstores and in libraries.

Catch22 Compulsion_Meyer_Levin_cover OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest RagtimeDoctrorowHardcover Slaughterhousefive


I’m thankful the NY Times ran that obituary. I had no idea that Paul Bacon was a jazz musician. I knew he’d done a Thelonious Monk album cover, but I didn’t realize he played.