Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peter Mendelsund

One thing about working in a bookstore (and shopping in bookstores and obsessively browsing book websites) is that I see a lot of book covers. Most of course are pretty blah, maybe effective at indicating the type of book but little else. (And maybe not always then - a few months back a customer asked for a recommendation and Cathleen Schine's books sounded exactly like what she wanted. Only when we pulled out the books the covers made them look like fuzzy Picoult-ish romance novels and the customer passed.) It wasn't until I stumbled across this post about designer Peter Mendelsund that I realized that many of my favorite current covers were done by the same person. This must be how a lot of the early auteurists felt when discovering that their favorite films were done by the same directors, except in my defense the cover designer name is always tucked away so if you're not actively looking for it you won't find it.

There's not much stylistically that connects Mendelsund's covers but many of these stood out - the Dostoevsky editions, Tezuka's Dororo, Carey's Peter & Oliver, the cloth of Mr Peanut (paper cover is different) and more - it's not on this page but he also did the new Foucault and Benjamin designs. I'd never seen the cloth of Anatomy of Fascism but it's a much better cover than the too-literal paperback (which I have). I will confess though that I never liked the Larsson cover - too vague but also too busy. So it's interesting to read in a profile that Mendelsund originally had different proposals that the publisher rejected. (There's another good 2008 interview here and a more recent one focusing on Kafka.) (And really by now shouldn't there be a better way to indicate a link than just "here"? I'm too lazy to figure it out.)

Mendelsund's domain-named website is down but he has a blog at that also has other samples of his work. And of course he Twitters but who doesn't?