We brought in an expert to judge 2016 book releases by their covers

  • Anup Gupta, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 31, 2015 16:46 IST
Don’t judge a book by its cover, they say. But we all do it anyway

The best part about growing up in one of the busiest parts of central Delhi, Karol Bagh, was Golden Book Depot, a book shop that stood across the road from where we lived. I had a deal with my grandfather: if I was a good boy, and did not get into trouble the whole day, I would get to walk across the road with him to Golden Book Depot to buy a book — an Enid Blyton for the next day. The problem was, I could never decide which book to pick. I’d spend hours looking at the covers, reading the synopsis at the back, then reviewing the cover once again.

So, what makes a reader appreciate a book cover? Having designed a few myself, I believe it is the emotional quotient (let’s call it EQ) of the visual. So when I was asked to judge a few covers, I readily accepted the challenge.

Here we go.

The Bones Of Grace

Maybe I’m not getting something here, but I struggled to get the visual of this cover. Done in colours primarily from the same palette, I found it a bit difficult to navigate the multiple layers on the visual. As a result, its impact on me, a potential reader, is seriously compromised. Typographically speaking, too, the font for the title and the mix of the sans-serif and the serif itals, or the unconventional alignments, did not quite work for me.

Author: Tahmima Anam; EQ: 5/10

In Other Words

I find this one rather uninviting. Other than the elegant and clean typography, there’s nothing going in terms of visual impression. Unlike The Sleep Revolution, where the author looks directly at the reader and connects, the slightly distracted image of the author (Lahiri) does not establish a strong connection. Lastly, nothing here says that the book has a twist in its tale.

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri; EQ: 6/10


For me, this cover works very well. The cool blue, the misty landscape and the blurry title capture the promise of a juicy mystery on the Yorkshire Moors. The visual urges and invites one to dive into the book to know more about the voice of the little boy who has a message for Jess. Yes, I am interested.

Author: MR Carey; EQ: 8/10

Cometh The Hour

This is the penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicle series. It promises to take the reader on a journey with the company of multiple characters in a certain period. The cover captures the setting and, even though one does not connect with any face, one does connect with the warm embrace of the couple in front of the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin) which gives it contextual setting. The sepia treatment and the headline in a classic font are warm, and contribute to the overall appeal.

Author: Jeffrey Archer; EQ: 7.5/10

The Third Wave

Many would have forgotten Steve Case, and that he was one of the first to ride the world wide web wave. The unconventional cover with its rich, warm colours, the large label headline, and the clean typographic approach is extremely catchy. It screams ‘look at me, pick me up’. The cover does its job well and I doubt, once picked up, there will be many who will put it back on the shelf.

Author: Steve Case; EQ: 7/10

The Sleep Revolution

Everyone wants to know what makes successful entrepreneurs tick. So when Arianna Huffington writes about the utility and the need to sleep, many would want to know what she has to say. Though a clean and attractive cover visual, that has the author sitting pretty at the edge of an inviting bed, looking directly at the reader, it might have been better to give the celebrity writer a better presence. One has to make an effort to see her. After all, it is because of her that we want to know more about the revolution.

Author: Arianna Huffington; EQ: 7/10

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