Case Study 20

Title: End of the Wild

Author: Jason Taylor

Designer: Cakamura Studios

Genre: Fantasy

Graphics: This is a story about a young couple that finds itself shipwrecked on an island off the British Columbia coast. The island is populated by “legendary creatures” from native mythology. Does the cover convey that?

Not really. There is no indication, in the image, of shipwreck or island or strange creatures. (The tree-studded background could be part of a long, continental coast rather than an island.)

When I first saw the cover, I thought the book was a non-fiction account of a sailing adventure. In fact, the sailboat at rest in calm water is deceptive, because there is no such scene in the book. The very first paragraph has the boat’s hull breached by rocks, and within a few paragraph the boat sinks and the man and woman find themselves on the shore.

I suspect this was a case of the designer finding a pretty photo and settling for it. It’s easy to imagine how an illustrator might have worked up those initial paragraphs into a compelling cover, but perhaps the author was on a tight budget and couldn’t afford an illustrator.

Typography: Not a few outdoor-adventure books use thin fonts, such as Helvetica, with widely-spaced letters, as here. Nothing wrong with that, though nothing innovative either.

The title is legible enough, but the author’s first name gets lost in the mist on the hillside. It’s hard to say how to fix that problem while keeping the image.

Perhaps the first name could have been stacked atop the surname, thus making almost all the text flush right. (If the title lines were closer together, even the first word could have its own line, without forcing the last word of the title onto the light-colored water.)

Overall: The biggest problem with this cover is that it doesn’t suggest the genre. For that matter, it doesn’t even suggest that this is a novel.