Getting ready for the paperback

Even as reviews are still dribbling out — such as this one from South Africa — my publisher is preparing to launch Hannibal and Me in paperback.

I got an email with the two cover-jacket designs above that they’re choosing between. All that takes me back a year or so, when I first saw the hardcover jacket.

Your aesthetic opinions are welcome, as ever.

52 thoughts on “Getting ready for the paperback

  1. I like both but assume the one on the right will get the nod. In fact, I like them better than the hard cover’s design. But, being a simple man, I prefer simple things.

    • Come to think of it, I might also like them better than the hard covery. As you recall from our blog discussion long ago, I’m always in favor of aesthetic simplicity. And this one is a bit cheeky. You have to look for a moment before you “get” the graphic.

    • I like the “red helmet-black tie” concept someone else suggested. Not upset by the “Teach Us” issue; it’s difficult to re-format symmetrically if you move the “Us” up a line and you would have to capitalize “about” and “and”… It can be done, though, and maybe “About” and “And” looks better than “about” and “and” in a series of lines that had all capitalized words until the last one.

    • @Douglas: The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage calls for the capitalization of all nouns, pronouns and verbs, and all other words of four or more letters in a headline. Therefore, the “about” should be capitalized anyway, and the “and” could be left lowercase as is.

    • @Cyberquill, you are correct about the capitalization standards. The “about” should have been capitalized… in a headline The above is not a headline and that standard does not apply.

    • So you’re saying that common headline capitalization standards apply to titles and subtitles of books with the exception of the four-letters-or-more rule?

    • Yes, but you also wrote that if the “Us” were moved up a line, the “about” and the “and” would have to be capitalized. This implies that in Douglasland, there exists a capitalization rule for subtitles that is different from the capitalization rule for headlines, for if this were a headline rather than a subtitle, the and could remain lowercase as it is.

    • Ah, I see now… Yes, capitalizing the “and” would violate the headline standard but it would also be consistent. Since a subtitle is not a headline, I figured ascetics would take precedence. Capitalizing both just suited my eye better that just capitalizing “about”. Which brings up another question: Was it the line break or the non-capitalized “about” which bothered those who referenced it?

    • It is the line break that irks me. Somehow, breaking up “Military Strategist” bothers me less than breaking up “Teach Us.”

      And yes, if the “Us” were moved up one line, the “about” would have to be capitalized for aesthetic reasons alone, as it would simply look wrong to have the first two lines of the subtitle begin with a capital letter and the third one with a lowercase letter.

      And then, if anyone were to point out that “about” wasn’t supposed to be capitalized in a title because it’s a preposition, one could counter by presenting the words-of-four-letters-or-more capitalization rule from the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage and make an, I believe, justifiable argument that when it comes to capitalization and punctuation, headlines and titles are identical, i.e., what applies to one applies to the other as well.

      Sure, if “about” were capitalized, then “and” would remain as the sole lowercase letter in the subtitle, but that wouldn’t bother me, considerations regarding aesthetic inconsistency notwithstanding. All-caps titles/subtitles are a different story, but to simply capitalize the first letter of every word, including the non-emphasized short ones like “to” and “and,” violates my personal sense of title decorum, unless such a word were to begin a line in a broken-up title where all other lines started with a cap, in which case my sense of aesthetics may trump my sense of decorum.

    • @Cyberquill, there is a particular term for what you are, you know. 🙂

      Have you tried moving the “Us” up? As it stands, it is balanced fairly neatly but moving the “Us” up would actually move 3 characters up (the space and the “Us”). It can be done but you end up with a shorter (by 5) 3rd line than the 1st line. Currently, the 3rd line is shorter by 4 characters. If I counted right, it is 32-20-28 now. If you move the “Us”, you get 32-23-25.

    • Well, if I were designing the perfect girlfriend, I’d insist on 34-24-34 (plus/minus one). When it comes to title measurements, though, I’m a bit more flexible.

    • @Cyberquill. I actually agree with you on the form and phrasing (though I prefer a 36-22-36 figure on women… which my lovely wife once sported… sigh). I think the cover designer(s) had in mind something pleasing to the general eye. They seem to have prized symmetry over standards. You, sir, (and a few others) are more discerning. To that extent, I think the phrasing is fine.

    • Nicely done. I noticed you did away with the oversized brackets also; something that pleased me. Perhaps Andreas can offer your design to the publishers.

    • You’re right. My “keen” observation is worse than my math (and my spelling of aesthetic).

  2. I like the coloured picture one more. It still keeps things simple, but adds a nice flavour to the cover. Good luck!

  3. I really want to see a red helmet black tie option; I think the contrast would really suit the title/authorname juxtaposition that the lettering already establishes. But in a pinch I would pick the one where both the helmet and tie are colored.

  4. Congratulations on another great review!

    I’d vote for the color version as well, but also have some reservations about the concept. Maybe I’m unimaginative, but until I read the comments, I thought the tie was a sword. I simply didn’t see a tie and still don’t totally get it. The idea is clever but maybe too subtle. It might also limit the demographic of the book’s appeal (oh, another business book) and we know that it shouldn’t be limited that way.

    I’d stick with the winner that is on the original book. You in a suit adjacent to an elephant is not the same as Hannibal wearing a tie. Hannibal in a tie reminds me of one of my earlier bosses who I’d like to forget.

    Aside from that, I think Cyberquill has an excellent point. It seems illogical and uncomfortable to break “teach us.”

    • Aha, the first one to squint and say “what the heck is this?”

      I’m cool with it being quite subtle. Makes people look longer, and perhaps ropes them in.

  5. It’s been my impression that paperbacks usually have the same jacket designs as the hardback originals.

    Why then, have your publishers changed the design for the paperback of “Hannibal and Me”?

    Whatever the reason, I prefer the paperback jacket design of your book to that of the original. I like the design on the left, and suggest it be wholly in black and white.

    This would make it more arresting.

    • I’ve thought about that, Christopher, and I have no good answer why the cover must be different in paperback. Possibly, some sort of research about buying behaviors supports this, possibly not.

  6. dito to the break on “teach us”. But WOW!! Great cover, the hierarchy is much improved the image very clever, sword or tie still works like a Rorschach blot, guides the eye to the authors name.

    i vote for the red helmet. clean, clever, clear. yeah!

    • hey i’m a “recovering” GD too! how soon you forget… i know, i know, i’m too sweet to sound authoritative about anything!

      absolutely no to a cream colored blog, thought you were kidding. nothing clever about vanilla. and the red/black cream combo of your cover is a mid-century modern look that is very hard to pull off without looking “cold”. it’s the clever graphic that warms your cover and gives the viewer a wink.

      if you are serious about a background color change try a warm shade of red, see if it’s not too harsh, and keep the grey type, don’t switch to black type for the title.

      i have a feeling you are too busy to bother with color changes on the blog anyway! but i cringe at the thought of bad design choices the way CQ cringes at bad grammar. it’s my thang 😉

  7. Kluth! I love the helmet/tie graphic. My (very belated) opinion is that the red graphic is better because you want to establish graphical unity between the title and the graphic rather than your name (the most prominent visual element that’s black) and the graphic. There’s also a nice visual rhythm as you scan from top to bottom (black/red/black/red/black) to the version which has the red helmet and tie.

    • Thanks, Baily. I can now share that you and your allies here have won: Red it is!

      And the helmet has been improved.

      And the offending “Us” in the third line of the subtitle is being moved up (or so I’ve been told).

  8. I’ve noted the video advertisements that have recently appeared at the foot of this posting.

    Yesterday’s ad was for a skin cream. Today’s is for a brand of tequila. What will tomorrow’s be?

    May I assume you’re seeking to augment your income?

    Anyway, how might skin cream and tequila go with the story of Hannibal in the minds of readers? How about that his skin would have been raw and burned from the deserts of North Africa and Spain, and have been cold and chapped in the snow-bound Alps?

    Hannibal would have welcomed, I’m sure, the healing qualities and soothing feeling of cream on his skin. And what better than tequila for him and his soldiery to have downed large quantities of, to celebrate the routing of the Romans.

    I wait impatiently for the next ad……..

    • I don’t see any ads. If you see ads, they must be placed there automatically by who-knows?

      Admittedly, I did place coded messages about proper skin care throughout the epic story of Hannibal.

    • Every time I come here, I leave with a craving for oranges. I’d say this blog is being sponsored by Sunkist, but it’s so cleverly subliminable, I can’t prove it.

    • The ads only appear when I use the Windows browser, but aren’t there whan I use Firefox.

      The ad apearing today is merely the standard Google Adsense ad, with links to audio books.

      I’m disappointed. I was enjoying the videos.

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