Judging Book Covers

By Shlomo Greenwald

I’ll admit it. I sometimes choose to read a book based on its cover. I know. I know. I’m breaking a cardinal rule of…well…of life, of one that we’ve all been taught, at least as a metaphor, since pre-school.

Whether the rest of us admit it or not, covers draw our attentions and create the initial impressions we have with books. Which is why I’ve long bemoaned the state of book covers in the Orthodox publishing world. There had always been exceptions, but in general the covers were boring and cookie-cutter.

In the last five to 10 years, though, Jewish book covers have gained some vitality and personality. On this page are a few of the new titles whose covers have won
my attention and praise.The Jewish Dog9780983868538

The Jewish Dog by Asher Kravtiz

Designer Shanie Cooper says:

The Jewish Dog is a translation of a novel published in Israel in 2007 to great success. I like the basic design of the original cover and wanted to retain its flavor (a cartoon image of a dog on a solid blue background), but I made several significant changes. I chose a different image for the dog, Caleb, that more closely matched how I imagined him – intelligent and gazing up as if trying to communicate with the reader.

“This was important because this powerful book is uniquely narrated by the dog himself as he lives through the years before, during, and after the Holocaust. I chose a grungy font and added texture to both the font and the blue background to make the cover feel more complex and layered, like the ideas grappled with in the book.

“A further issue affecting this book cover was how to best translate the Hebrew title, Hakelev Hayehudi. The publisher and distributor debated whether a strict translation, although potentially provocative, would be best, or whether to avoid possible controversy by selecting a less derogatory sounding title – for example, The Hebrew Hound, The Yiddish Hound. Also discussed was whether to add a subtitle to the book for clarification, i.e. “A Novel.” In the end, the publisher chose the most accurate translation of the title, simply, The Jewish Dog.”

This originally appeared in The Jewish Press

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: