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Designer Scott Richardson describes how the cover of Fall On Your Knees has evolved

When the original paperback cover for Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on your Knees (those in the know shorthand it as FOYK) landed on my desk, the design's heavy lifting had already been done by someone else.

The hardcover had been a runaway bestseller, and in true if-it-ain't-broke fashion, it was decided to leverage that success on the paperback by keeping the key element of the original design, i.e., the woman. An added incentive here: the author had approved the image once, so there would be none of the typical hand-wringing over finding a new visual everyone could agree on.

All I needed to do was give the cover a "paperback" feel. (A vague publishing term that usually means setting the type as big as possible and slap on a suitably effusive endorsement and with any luck an award burst where they will catch the most eyes.)
Which I did .

 Months pass, FOYK continues its success, and along comes Oprah and her book club. Time for a hefty reprint, complete with longed-for burst. Apart from that, the woman stays in the picture, as Hollywood might say.

>Years pass. The Oprah'd FOYK runs its course. It is then decided to give the cover something of a freshening-up. Introduce a new look in hopes of attracting the remaining five people who had not already bought/read either the hardcover or the first paperback or the Oprah edition. (But not so new as to eliminate the one element that had endured the shame of so much blurb/burst slapping, i.e., the woman.)

Now having done two versions of the cover that visually shouted to the rear stalls, I thought why not go in the opposite direction. Keep the woman, to be sure (confession here: apart from being appropriate to the content of the novel and approved by the author, she is perhaps one of the sultriest women I've ever seen on a book cover, Titian art books notwithstanding) but tone down the typographic ballyhoo. Try a little elegance, a touch of grace, a hint of sophistication (to my mind equally appropriate to the content). Turn down the volume; give the poor woman a break. Goodness knows she deserves it (see above confession):

But therein lies a rub. So elegant, so graceful, so sophisticated was my humble attempt at typography that it was, well, so unreadable for things like websites and Canada Reads blogs. Could I turn it up just a bit, they asked. Perhaps to 5 on the knob. Which I did.

Rest assured though. For purposes of the actual hold-in-your-hands book, the aforementioned typographic grace remains. Apart from the Canada Reads burst of course (above, right), which luckily I know how to handle, having slapped Oprah (so to speak) on an earlier occasion. Please don't misunderstand: I have no argument with bursts and blurbs and other such marketing whizbangery. I know why they are there, and if they manage to put one more book in front of one more pair of eyes, I am all for them.

But don't expect me to notice them. I'm too busy looking at the woman.

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