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Literary Festival 2014: Don't Judge a Book by its Cover: reflecting content through design


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Editor's note: The question and answer session has been removed from this podcast.

Speaker(s): Polly Courtney, Isabelle de Cat, Jonathan Gibbs
Chair: Toby Lichtig

Recorded on 1 March 2014 in Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building.

Fiction publishing has long held that an eye catching cover is key to successful sales. But academic publishing struggles to reflect complex contents through one stand-out image on a book cover. The growth of e-books and online publishing in many ways makes the cover design of a book more important, and sharing a cover on social media may give it more prominence than it has ever had. So this panel asks how crucial is how a book cover looks? And what can serious fiction and non-fiction publishing learn from its more populist cousins?

Polly Courtney (@PollyCourtney) is the author of six published novels. She started out as an investment banker and wrote her first book, Golden Handcuffs, because she wanted to expose the reality of life in the Square Mile. Subsequent novels have covered sexism, racism, fame culture and the summer riots and her most recent novel, Feral Youth, is about disenfranchised youth in a summer of discontent. In late 2011, Polly famously walked out on her publisher, HarperCollins, for the ‘girly’ titles and covers assigned to her books – most notably, It’s a Man’s World, the hard-hitting take on the lads’ mag industry and its impact on society.

Isabelle de Cat is art editor for the Press division of Penguin Books. She has over 12 years' experience working in the book industry. In her current role, she designs, commissions and sources cover artworks for a wide range of titles across Penguin's fiction and non-fiction imprints: Allen Lane, Penguin Classics, Modern Classics and Particular Books.

Jonathan Gibbs (@Tiny_Camels) is a books journalist and writer living in London. He writes a weekly blog on book design for The Independent as well as writing more widely on books for The Independent, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Times Literary Supplement. His debut novel, Randall, or The Painted Grape, will be published in 2014 by Galley Beggar Press. He teaches undergraduate modules at the University of East Anglia on Creative Writing and The Writing of Journalism.

Toby Lichtig is assistant editor at the Times Literary Supplement. He is also a freelance journalist, editor and writer.

The LSE Review of Books (@LSEReviewBooks) publishes daily reviews of academic books across all the social science disciplines. We also produce podcasts where you can hear academics discussing the ideas behind their latest books. We will be producing a special podcast in the run up to the festival asking academics about the art and literature that inspires them.

This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2014, taking place from Monday 24 February - Saturday 1 March 2014, with the theme 'Reflections'.

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