Exhibition tells the story of book cover design

May 13, 2022 - 08:13
As the saying goes, you should never judge a book by it's cover, but let's be honest, it's always the cover that catches your eye.


Book covers from Kim Đồng Publishing House at the Vietnamese Book Cover Art 2022 exhibition. VNS Photo Lương Thu Hương

HÀ NỘI  As the saying goes, "You should never judge a book by it's cover, but let's be honest, it's always the cover that catches your eye".

More than 700 book cover designs have gone on display at an exhibition in Hà Nội.

Organised by Graphics Association 2 under the Việt Nam Fine Arts Association, Vietnamese Book Cover Art 2022 aims to honour the creativity and talent of graphic artists and designers.

The designs are the work of 55 artists across the nation, and feature books released by six major publishers - the Education Publishing House, Kim Đồng Publishing House, Women Publishing House, Fine Arts Publishing House, and Nhã Nam and Thái Hà Books.

“Book cover art is associated with the art of graphic design and the publishing sector," said artist/book cover designer Hồ Trọng Minh. 

"If the logo represents the brand and the packaging shows the product contained inside, the cover of the book provides a condensed overview and hints the content.

“Each book cover is a story about the content and images inside. Nowadays, book covers are presented in a variety of genres -- art, literature, cultural research, science or textbooks, business and dictionaries. Each of which has a different design style that could be easily recognised at a glance.

“The design of a beautiful cover aims to meet the requirements of the content and at the same time, present the artists' own styles."

Việt Nam’s publishing market has grown significantly in recent years. In 2021, it is estimated that 4 million copies of 33,000 titles were sold, fetching a revenue of nearly VNĐ3,000 billion (US$131 million).

'Ambassador of cultural products'

A cover of Vietnamese classic children's book, Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký (Adventures of a Cricket) was drawn in 1959 by artist Ngô Mạnh Lân. VNS Photo Lương Thu Hương

 “If there are two books with exactly the same content, but one of the two has a better cover, readers and buyers will certainly pick the one with a more beautiful cover," Ngô Xuân Khôi, chief artist of the Women's Publishing House, said.

“Without a doubt, book covers play an increasingly decisive role as the ‘ambassadors’ of cultural products. We all know that the signal on the cover reaches the readers at the speed of light. It is considered the first level of reading, having the power to attract readers to the content of the book very strongly."

"The role of book covers is shifting from merely protecting the inner pages to advertising and at the same time, conveying the content," Khôi said.

“Designers are still trying to push designs to their limits in hopes of attracting more sales. It is now reasonable for the designs of book covers to harmonise two factors – art and revenue,” he told Thanh Niên (Youth) newspaper.

The artist noted that book cover designs would evolve even stronger with the rapid growth of the Internet and eBooks. Their role will become even more important than ever as they are considered as a versatile tool to sell books online to large readers all over the world.

Khôi added: “Being distinctive from other art forms, book cover designs increasingly demands professional and well-trained artists. It is is a harmonious combination of four elements: text, images, colours, and layout.

“How to convey contents attractively, impressively and differently on a narrow scale while still ensuring the invisible strict limits of legal institutions and fine customs is a difficulty that every book cover designer has to overcome."

Vietnamese Book Cover Art 2022 exhibition is the first of its kind held in Việt Nam. It will run until May 15 at the Fine Arts Exhibition House, 16 Ngô Quyền Street, Hà Nội. VNS