Covers that Stopped Me: The 2 AM Principle

I’m a sucker for a good book cover. It’s really hard to do well. Serviceable covers there are plenty, and now that indie publishing is a thing, there’s plenty of places where you can get them for cheap.

Which makes me think that the bar is higher for a cover that’ll stop you. For that, I have to blame album covers, back in the day when they came on vinyl and needed a sleeve that was the size of a dinner plate. That gave you the opportunity for really creative cover designs.

hipgnosis book

“The Work of Hipgnosis” collects their best and worst covers with entertaining commentary on the design process.

One of my favorites came from Hipgnosis, a London outfit who did covers for Pink Floyd (they did the prism cover for “Dark Side of the Moon”), Paul McCartney and Wings, Alan Parsons Project. Chances are, if you came across a record cover that made you want to buy it, even if you didn’t recognize the artist, chances are it was by them. (Here’s a Hipgnosis fan’s web site with samples of their work.)

All of this has nothing to do with “The 2AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure.” I came across an article based on the book about “How to Make Friends Faster.” That led me to the book, and the cover design:

awesome book cover

Covers have to work both in thumbnail and full-size. I love how this piece draws me in and tickles my curiosity. It’s also impressive that the shade of blue in the background is gradiated: dark at the top, lighter at the bottom. It made me want to find out more, and that’s the cover’s job.