Those of you who follow this blog have probably guessed that I have a soft spot for book covers. And, being a bookseller, I do indeed judge a book by its proverbial. We are very fortunate to have some excellent book jacket designers currently plying their wares, but for some reason, publishers, designers and marketers still sometimes get it wrong.

A new release fiction book in Australia usually gets released in two formats (three if you’re Bryce Courtenay): C-Format (the bigger one), and B-Format (the smaller one), which means that if the cover is badly designed the first time, there is a fair chance it will be changed for the better on its second format release. This, however, is sometimes not the case.

And so I present to you my pick of the seriously-buggered-up-second-format releases you may see on the shelves in the next few months.

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz

C-Format, released December 2007:

B-Format, released March 2009:

The first format is striking, looked great on the shelf (I’ve had customers refer to it as “That yellow Oscar book”), and really branded it as something different; whereas the second format is more likely to be picked up by parents of children with behavioural difficulties (“Do you have any books on Spectral Atavistic Wittgenstein’s Disorder? What do you mean, no? I saw it described on the internet!!!”).

It’s not that I don’t like the second design, it’s just doesn’t seem to fit. But what do I know? I didn’t like the book, and it won the Pulitzer…

*Tomorrow’s Format Folly — How to churn charm into chunder…*

One thought on “FORMAT FOLLIES, PT 1

  1. >yep ! so true. The yellow cover RULES> You know Chris – I really did like this book. I thought I wouldn't when I started reading and I put it down for ages.Maybe it's that I have a thing for Latin American History, but I thought there was a tenderness there that was kind of joyful to be in – even though the content was sad. fave

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