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A Warming Trend

Book-jacket designers all scream for you-know-what.


Janelle Brown’s new All We Ever Wanted Was Everything is a sad novel about a California mom and her two daughters, all dealing with guy troubles, and the book’s cover evokes their anxious mood with a photograph of a slowly melting sundae. It’s one of at least five recent titles to deploy a similar image. “It’s actually pretty creative,” says Sonia Shannon, a jacket designer. “If you want to suggest, say, conflict over being at home with kids, you wouldn’t want a broken toy, which suggests abuse. This is just something that’s not as it was—sweet but not perfect anymore.” John Fulbrook III, a former book designer who now works in branding, agrees: “In jacket design, one classic solution is using the charged object—one that tells you more than it should.” (He suggests that the trend descends from Rick Moody’s 2001 Demonology, the pastel jacket of which, widely discussed in the design world, displays a roll of Smarties.) “And then it also gives you a sense of time—which is hard to convey without showing someone running down the street or something—because the ice cream’s melting. It’s one of the rare cases where you get to add a sense of action, that urgency, to a personified object.” Moreover, adds graphic designer Rodrigo Corral, it’s practical. “It doesn’t require styling. All you need is to watch it melt.”


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