When book covers began to be more popularly used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they served mainly functional rather than artistic purposes. Aside from protecting the inner pages, covers such as leather imprints functioned as status symbols. Book production has gone a long way, with books becoming objects of mass consumption and covers playing a major role in the selling of books.
What sort of cover would, as food writer and teacher Ige Ramos describes it, make a book “either jump off the bookshelf screaming ‘Buy me!’ or sit quietly until the right person picks it up”? Musician and visual artist Datu Arellano puts it simply: a good book cover is “striking.” But more importantly, it “draws the reader in,” says designer Karl Castro, and “entices without giving too much of the content away.”
For content is foremost. Poet Bolix shares, “I love to read and in reading I get a better sense of how to approach and do the design. I would never design a book whose content conflicts with my own views of what is morally good or correct.” Datu agrees that content should drive the book design as a whole, which “must also remain interesting even after one has read the book,” says Karl. “One should cherish the object like one would the narrative.”
What works, or whose, inspire contemporary Pinoy book designers? Aside from Ige, Karl, Bolix, and Datu, we’ve asked graphic artists R Jordan Santos and Clarissa Ines on their favorite book covers.