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Examining Books with the Caustic Cover Critic

On his blog the Caustic Cover Critic, James Morrison tracks down, posts, and comments on beautiful and bizarre book cover design — from current titles to finds from years past. We caught up with him to hear what originally sparked the idea, and asked him to rate some recent covers.

“I’m a fairly lowly writer/editor/designer/illustrator in the real world,” James told us. “My most recent job included designing a children’s book about hepatitis, weirdly enough, so I have a professional interest in design. Couple that with an overpowering obsession with books, and an interest in book design is the natural outcome.”

“When I started writing about book design in 2007, there were already a couple of blogs that I knew of that were doing something similar, but they tended to focus on new books only. I’ve tended to wander all over the place, looking at new books, old books, interviewing designers, and occasionally going off on self-indulgent tangents. I’ve stuck with recent covers that are on books you can still buy, if only to narrow down the options for myself. Ask me on a different day and I’ll probably choose five different covers.”

Click through below for more of his picks.

2666 by Robert Bolaño; designed by Charlotte Strick

James says: “A lovely object, and a practical response to the structure of the book (which consists of three novellas and two novels, all interlinked). It worked on me: I’d been a bit turned off by all the Bolaño hype, and had no real intention of reading him, but then I saw this box and I had to have it. It turned out that the book was brilliant and the hype-merchants were right, but I wouldn’t have known without Strick’s fantastic design.”

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