Saturday, 31 July 2010


This looks familiar, I thought, on first unloading Michael Burleigh’s ‘Moral Combat’ from a tote at work. Wait a minute... Having attended a covers meeting whist on work experience with a publisher, I can tell you that every aspect of cover design is taken very seriously. Are the colours inviting? Does the image convey the warmth and humour of the book? Could we give the paperback a wider appeal if we make it look less literary? Did this book not sell because the colours were dreary? Will this stand out from all the other books on the shelf? So I can only imagine the horror in the HarperCollins and Penguin camps when they realised that they had used exactly the same image for the covers of ‘Moral Combat’ and the paperback edition of Andrew Roberts’ ‘The Storm of War’, published within weeks of each other. I had found the cover of the latter particularly stunning; its moody colour scheme is enhanced by its striped matte and shiny finish, and a pixellated image really cannot do it justice. Unfortunately, side by side it is upstaged by the stark simplicity of the Burleigh book.

I put them on opposite ends of the History table.

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