Harry Potter and The Scary Book Design

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I’m probably now one of the millions of “children” that have finished reading the last installment in the Harry Potter series. But the interesting part of this is the amazing cultural fall out that this book series has created.
My cousin was telling me about some attention seeking juvenile that while on the bus blurted out key plot endings from the book and in the process pissing off almost everybody else on the bus. Pretty funny eh.
I can also remember a day after the official, much hyped, launch of the book. I spied no less than 7 people either carrying or reading the book in my short 10 min walk from the local cafe back home. There were at least 2 people walking while reading, 1 clever person just carrying the book instead while walking, and another 4 or so sitting around the park reading it.
How could you tell they were all reading Harry Potter?
1) It’s a damn thick book.
2) No one in the right mind would be juggling a hard back (cover) book so thick with their other things.
3) Some of the oddest and gaudy book jacket designs to date. (I don’t mind the locket, but the one with the myriad of colors it just forces all the detail out of the picture. I only forced myself to take a closer look half-way into the book.
However it was mainly the absurd thickness of the book that drew my attention and reminded me of this quote:

Design is the silent ambassador of a Brand ~ Paul Rand

I think other than the iPod there is no other product out there who’s design of it matted so much. I wonder if the physical design of the book, and the graphics of the jacket cover could have been better considered as a means to better communicate some of the brand values? Don’t know I am undecided, but what do you think?

Source: Wikipedia

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3 Comments
  • Timbo

    September 28, 2007 at 4:21 pm Reply

    Hi!
    Well i agree with you on the terrible book jacket design DT, however i do think that the hideous design in my mind does communicate the brand values. lets look at the readers of the book. we live in a world where the readers (young or old male or female) have the ipod, drink designer coffee and have nice big LCD TVs. This book is a fantastical getaway from the designed and branded world we live in. The book design, mast head and illustration are not fussy and is content driven. It has a get in there and read me quality rather then a branded feel which may intimidate a new reader of the series.
    I could imagine it being a very good looking and cohesive brand if they got the right designer or consultancy on board, but i have to say it has an old bookshop book charm to it.
    from timbo

  • Shang Lee

    September 29, 2007 at 12:17 pm Reply

    I got the children’s edition everytime, except for the last book. I agree with Timbo, that it’s got an old bookshop book charm to it. And it’s a children’s book, why an adult jacket? Thank goodness for the last book they had an adult jacket. The locket looks far better than the whirlwind world that’s going on in the children’s edition…

  • DT

    September 30, 2007 at 9:59 pm Reply

    Hi Shang Lee and Timbo, I’m still undecided on this one. For one the children’s cover seems over done and the adult focusing on simplicity. It is interesting though that this series has evolved into targeting 2 markets, I wonder if this was a marketing decision.
    At the end of the day though I am leaning towards the adult version. Then again I don’t see Dr Seuss having any problems with his books?

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