NPR and graphic design are two of my favorite things, and they just collided. Fresh Air just interviewed book cover designer Peter Mendelsund—thought I'd share in case any of you are as nerdy about these topics as I am.
On what a book jacket is and does
I think there are two primary jobs that a jacket has to do: It has to represent a text and it has to sell it. In a way, a book jacket ... is sort of like a title that an author comes up with. It's one thing that has to speak to a big aggregate thing, which is the book itself. And it has to be compelling in some way such that you're interested enough to pick it up — and perhaps buy it. ... It's like a billboard or an advertisement or a movie trailer or a teaser. ...
I think of a book jacket as being sort of like a visual reminder of the book, but ... it's also a souvenir of the reading experience. Reading takes place in this nebulous kind of realm, and in a way, the jacket is part of the thing that you bring back from that experience. It's the thing that you hold on to.