One of my favorite book cover designers is Peter Mendelsund. His competitive edge? As far as I can gather it’s that he deeply reads a text before he starts a design. Instead of bringing ideas to a text, his ideas come from the text. They are the source. And then he adds to it the rest of his education (literary, musical). Read a few direct quotes and further color here: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/16/345548582/the-jacket-designers-challenge-to-capture-a-book-by-its-cover

The main idea you posit in this piece — that if we can accept editing as a literary discipline then we can also accept graphic design as one — would find its best evidence of support in P. Mendelsund’s work. For example, his paperback version of Ulysses references a previous, well-loved design, while also uncovering a secret from the end of the book that you only get once you’ve finished it. He hides a spoiler in plain sight that offers a point of view — an editorial emphasis hierarchy–on what matters in the book. And what our experience is like as readers when we allow ourselves to be transformed by the text.

Design Partner at Sequoia, Founder of SequoiaDesignLab.com. Past: Twitter, Dreamworks. Guest lecturer at Stanford’s GSB & d.school jamesbuckhouse.com

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