Book cover between creativity and ease

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“The book appears from its title,” so it was said in the past, where the cover form was limited to the use of decorations and calligraphy only, and book covers have become an important and vital element in drawing the reader’s attention towards the book, as the cover turned into an artistic painting that dazzles the eye before dazzling the content of the book Reason, however, the lack of interest in the shape and design of the covers of some books has reduced their importance, according to what a number of specialists see in their interviews with Al-Bayan, noting that there is a noticeable decline in the designs of book covers.

While the majority of publishing organizations – government and private – as well as cover designers continue to rely on innovation and creative design of book cover graphics to attract readers, the question remains: Are book covers still an important source of income for artists? What is the importance and aesthetics of the covers that guarantee the drawings of the most important creators.. and how did the situation change between today and yesterday? What are the effects and repercussions of this on the publishing movement and the cultural movement in general?

reality

Regarding the reality of book covers, the plastic artist, Yasser Abdel-Qawi, believes that the reality of book covers design in Egypt is very dark. Especially when publishing houses treat book covers as “packaging” or “wrapping paper,” which it is not.

Abdul Qawi adds: It is assumed that the cover of the book is the first thing that the reader’s eye falls on; However, the publishing houses’ lack of interest in the cover diminished its importance to the reader; Publishing houses deal with a state of “recklessness” – as he described it – with the cover; Noting that the matter does not apply to publishing houses only; But the author of the book also does not care about the shape of the cover of his book.

He points out that designing book covers is no longer an important source of income for plastic artists; Because most publishing houses do not care about quality, and the prices offered are less than expected, explaining that he considers designing book covers as a hobby, and not suitable as a source of income, as it is a limited market, and there is no longer any interest in the quality of the cover. The plastic artist criticized the reluctance of some designers to reproduce ideas, use Photoshop programs and put a title on the cover of books.

Content and cover

And about reading the content of the book to design its cover, he said: It depends on the quality of the book, for example, books that discuss non-creative issues such as politics, economics and history, here the small details will not give you anything as a designer, but the big issue is the most important in this matter.

technology

On the impact of the design market; He emphasized that graphics programs are tools like a brush and a pen, but the idea revolves around how to use them, as publishing houses treat the cover as color spaces or an image with a writing space on a sheet of paper thus becoming a cover.

He said: There is a regression between the past and the present in the designs of book covers, except for what is rare, and he gave an example in the Egyptian House of Al-Hilal and the designer of its most famous covers ever, the artist Helmy Al-Tuni, describing them as “creative visual art paintings.”

Regarding the reasons for this decline, he explained that because of the collapse of the publishing industry in the first place, and although the profits of publishing houses are increasing, it is preferable to reduce the cost of designing the cover, in addition to the absence of any objection from the author or the reader to the poor covers.

He continued his statements by talking about the preferred colors in the design of book covers, saying: “There is no specific color, it is possible for the design to be genius; With faded colours, the idea around the cover is to draw the reader in.” And he gave a number of advice to book cover designers: It gives a real picture of the book, not bigger than it or indicating another dimension far from its content, not a direct translation of its name, there must be a relationship between the book and its interaction with its cover, not a burden on it, it could be An explanation of the book, or an explanation of its title.

Regarding the young generation and the design of the covers of their books, he said that they do not have certain preferences, especially that they are often forced to have a specific cover that resembles “cinema posters” even if there is no relationship between the cover and the content of the book, as they rely on a cover that is visually attractive.

double-edged sword

As for the covers designer and plastic artist, Amr El Kafrawy, he believes that there are some book covers designers who consider them a source of income, especially in light of his work with a number of publishing houses, and it is possible to implement more than one design per month, and said that “it was his source of income at one time, But he is currently working on the design of the paintings, and the design of the covers of the book he chooses very carefully.”

He differs with Abdul-Qawi, as he believes that the design of book covers in the Arab world is in constant development, but he considers the entry of modern technologies into the design of book covers a double-edged sword.

He said: “Modern technologies are a double-edged sword: the positive side is that they have become easier for the designer to work for the cover of the book, so the period has been reduced from months to days. The negative side is that it has become a profession for those who do not have a profession, do not have creativity and do not know the difference between the poster, for example. And the cover of the book, and they took up this profession because it is easy to deal with design programs.”

Publishing and design

On the other hand, Ahmed Said Abdel Moneim, director of one of the publications, said that since 2014, the house has developed its own strategy for designing book covers, for example, we decided to bring the paintings of an Egyptian plastic artist, Dr. Ahmed Saber at the Faculty of Fine Arts and put them on the covers Books in agreement with him of course.

He points out that the cover designer of the book in the end is part of the implementation of the vision of the house, and how the cover designer will implement my idea, explaining that the cover “its main and main goal is to draw attention and not something else.”

Regarding the designers’ complaint about the underestimation of their right, he stressed that the crisis here is the entry of those who have nothing to do with the book or the cover industry into the cover industry profession. The last “non-professional entry into the book covers industry”. And he continues: “The other thing is that these people do not have what the publishing house can appreciate, and another type of person, and they are the ones who burn themselves by not providing something of their own, by cloning an image from the Internet, and putting the address on it.”

study

According to a study under the title “The Semiotics of the Image and Designing the Cover of the Arabic Printed Book” published in April 2016 by Dr. Hamed Maarouf El-Zayat, a teacher of libraries and information at the Faculty of Arts, Benha University, the most prominent crises of book cover design were the imitation of another book cover with a success rate of 46.15%. The study also highlighted the design software that book cover designers rely on; Where the “Photoshop” program came in first place with a rate of 45.62%, while the interaction between the publisher and the cover artist is through “piece design”, as it came in first place with a rate of 80.77%, and the artist deals with more than one author by 44.44%.

about the cost of the design; The study showed that the cost of the design depends on the “expected working hours to complete it” by 42.86%, while the publisher is interested in the cover and its design “if the author is famous” by 63.63%. Readers accept the book according to several factors – according to the study – while the cover design is third among those factors in terms of its role in the marketing process by 18.34%.

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