Monday, 19 March 2012

Judging a Book by its Cover: African Writers Series

This was actually inspired by some of the comments I got when I first admitted that I judge books by their covers. So I thought I would showcase some original Heinemann African Writers Series cover designs.


1960s

 1970s
1980s
1990s - 2000s
*Source: Images sourced from here.


I was also quite interested in the inspiration behind the original AWS covers. In the 1960s and 70s, the design included colour-coding of the covers – fiction (orange - obviously taking inspiration from Penguin Books), non-fiction (blue) and poetry and plays (green). The AWS book-cover designs also often incorporated elements of traditional African art, to illustrate the main topic or theme of the novel, and had photographs (taken by George Hallet) of the authors on the back. The AWS covers always reminded me of literature texts for schools and it turns out the original intended audience were schools and universities. 


The change in design of the covers from the distinctive orange of the fiction titles to the newer covers, especially in the 90s, had to do with a shift in focus from education in a primary African market towards the US universities and UK general trade market. The aim was to add more colours, make it look more mainstream and more attractive for the UK/US markets.

2 comments:

  1. I absolutely love the AWS covers! They may not be beautiful, many have disliked them, but I love having them on my shelves when I can find them. I do admit though that the newer ones with the black tops and more colour are prettier :)

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  2. They have had mixed reviews but love them or dislike them, I do think they are very iconic.

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