Although we’re often warned not to judge books by their covers, that’s exactly what we do. The cover art for a book is the first signal to the reader about the contents within, and a good cover can have a huge influence on whether a prospective reader will not only pick it up, but delve inside. Many readers will judge whether they might like a book solely on how the book appears. Hence, publishers pay close attention to how a book is presented.
Christopher King, the art director for the American publishing house Melville House, explored some of the design choices for Lord of the Flies in this post. One of the featured covers is for the 1980 Perigee edition found on the book you’re using, featuring artwork by California artist Barron Storey. Consider the differences between that cover and the current cover of the 2006 update by artist Ben Gibson.
In late 2011, the British publisher Faber and Faber, in association with the national newspaper Guardian, launched a cover competition for the centenary edition of Lord of the Flies. Since this edition was intended for the education market, only young artists aged 13-16 were invited to compete.
The official site for the competition included a gallery of past covers of Lord of the Flies in addition to the finalist entries from the contest. Review some of the historical covers in the Melville House post and compare them to one of the galleries from the competition below to see how cover design has changed since 1953. How does each cover reveal a different aspect or perception of the novel?
In the end, the judges unanimously selected the mixed media work of 15-year-old Sarah Baxter as the contest winner. An interview with Sarah was published in The Guardian. Her artwork was published in September, 2012 when Faber and Faber released the UK education edition of Lord of the Flies.
Explore the artwork further. What has Ms. Baxter included in her artwork that speaks to the plot, characters, and themes of the novel? Do you find this to be a successful cover? Is it intriguing? Would you have selected a different work as the winner? Which cover works better for the novel, the new US cover above, or the British cover? Considering these details can lead you to greater insight into the novel within.