Covers of the High and Low: Attractions and Reflections Essay

Covers of the High and Low: Attractions and Reflections Essay

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Covers of the High and Low: Attractions and Reflections


When preparing a book for publishing, companies surely convene to agree upon a suitable cover - its design, size, color, texture, print size and design, and so on. Not one of these ingredients would be arbitrary, but each seems to perform two functions - attracting the appropriate reading audience, and reflecting the text's content in an intriguing manner. In short, the bestseller cover seems to work to create a certain "aura" which acts as a stylized extension, and/or abbreviated summary of the atmosphere produced by the words within. Often a picture appears centralized on the cover - an image to catch the eye more quickly than mere printed words would. At a moment's glance, the passer-by has already noticed an image, and then continues to process its meaning, aided by the ensuing title and perhaps author's name. Certain expectations and questions are inspired, as techniques of the cover take effect in the mind of the potential reader. The meaning derived from the cover's collaborating external signifiers is often fulfilled within the internal text. Because the cover is reflective of the novel's internal workings, and often its "high/low" cultural classification, the first reader/cover encounter could both determine a reader's initial acceptance or rejection of the book, and be somewhat prophetic of his/her subsequent reading experience. In this way, the bestseller cover is effective in reflecting the inner substance of the writing (including "high" or "low" cultural quality) in an intriguing manner which attracts appropriate readers.

Danielle Steele's Vanished portrays a small picture - an almost outlined (rather iconic) suggestion really - of a young boy in what ...


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...s traits of the "low cultural" bestseller converge together in the compact, physical realm of the cover to reflect the content's most "popular" strengths in a way that is provoking, and often enigmatic. The use of image and other signifiers of the cover is handled differently by "high cultural" bestsellers, as their literary self-perceptions are different. Hence, although both "high" and "low cultural" bestsellers use similar methods of content reflection, their covers are remarkably dissimilar, owing to 1.The difference in the publishers' perception of the book's strengths (such as "art", or "entertainment"), and 2.The target audience the publisher wishes to attract, based upon these perceptions. All bestsellers are popular, and their charismatic covers, when channeled to the appropriate audience, must be imperative in their achievement of such immense popularity.

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