Picador 40th Anniversary

Picador publishing company are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, they are re-issuing 12 of their fiction books. The titles include prize-winners, global sales hits, or controversial books. Along with the release of the new book covers, they have created some animated gifs to further promote the titles. Neil Lang, a Senior Designer at Macmillan Publishers has given us an insight into the process of the creative side behind this and his views on animated book titles.

‘The main aim of the project was to create ... something distinctive that would shout out when sat next to the latest thriller with its silhouetted figure. Something that was desirable and hopefully you would like to collect and keep, as these books have already sold thousands, and you still want the old fans to pick them up again yet also capture the attention of new readers.’

With many different titles and genres, the challenge for Lang was to make them look part of a set whilst still depicting the main story behind the individual books. ‘The picador 40th design initially started before any titles were confirmed, which while not an ideal way of working, enabled me to concentrate on creating a series style....By using black and white you get a series look but it still enables you to be creative on each individual title with a strong graphic image that also works well online’

‘I’ve easily done over 200 designs doing this series... and I always started trying to create something different whilst staying true to the book, but all the covers evolved in a different way. All the covers had to be shown in a cover meeting with around 20 people and like it or not that does shape the design as ultimately you are trying to please everyone whilst being creative.’

The designs have also been created as Gif animations, Neil explains the reason behind this. ‘Once I’d finished the designs for the Picador 40th series I wanted to see if I could push the designs any further and create extra interest specifically for displaying them online. Publishing is constantly changing and so I think its important we try out new ideas and capture the attention of as many people as we can.’


Moving book covers are ‘all quite a new thing at the moment, with major retailers such as Amazon not using gif files within their normal page display, they would still prefer just to display a jpeg of the cover next to the title which is automatically loaded on their site. You usually see banners etc that are using flash and gif files etc but getting the sites to accept them without payment is tricky. Having said that Amazon does have little videos occasionally which are displayed on a book page under the main cover image and we also put those up on Youtube with various links to the author websites etc.'



'But it is all changing and things such as these may well become the norm in the near future with all things digital moving at such a fast pace. These were done mainly for promotional purposes, something we can add to our website, author websites, that bloggers and fans can post and link to, and just create added interest and maybe get people talking.

The platforms that books are read on are changing, as a kindle wouldn’t be able to display them yet although maybe the next one will, and having sent them to a friend on an ipad all four displayed perfect within an email. So I can see maybe the online apple store changing soon, I guess for me its all about being ready and having ideas for when it does change, rather than struggling to catch up.

When we get a chance I think we will definitely do more animation but it obviously wouldn’t be relevant or beneficial for everything, saying that I’ve already got another cover I’d like to try something with. Or it could be we end up making mini movies in future, but I think it will all ultimately be driven by the consumers the platforms they have to read books and what the retailers will accept, but its going to be interesting!'

We think that these simple yet effective cover animations are great and are an interesting step for the future of book design! Thanks Neil!

By: Lisa
Posted: Mon 20th Feb 2012

Tags: Articles, Anniversay, Books, cover, Future, Gif, Macmillan, Picador, Publishing, Title


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