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Is this the ugliest book cover ever? Two wildly competing views

Books editor Steve Braunias and Auckland editor Simon Wilson debate the merits of the book cover just named New Zealand’s best of the year.

Steve Braunias: People say New Zealand literature is short of laughs but the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ!) book design awards are reliably LOL. Oh hang on they’re not joking.

Year after year PANZ hands (PANZ hands!) out awards to the most pretentiously designed books of the year, but PANZ have outdone themselves in 2017. At the awards announced last week, PANZ judges handed not one, not two, but three awards to the most pretentiously designed book of all time.

BEST COVER

Cazador — game, offal and the rest by Dariush Lolaiy and Rebecca Smidt (Cazador) designed by Tim Donaldson & Amanda Gaskin, Sea Change Studio

BEST COOKBOOK DESIGN

Cazador — game, offal and the rest by Dariush Lolaiy and Rebecca Smidt (Cazador) designed by Tim Donaldson & Amanda Gaskin, Sea Change Studio

BEST BOOK DESIGN

Cazador — game, offal and the rest by Dariush Lolaiy and Rebecca Smidt (Cazador) designed by Tim Donaldson & Amanda Gaskin, Sea Change Studio

 

I only wish to make a brief comment: no one in their right mind would buy a book which looked as shit as that. Oh and have a look at this screenshot from eminent publisher Fergus Barrowman, commenting on the 2017 PANZ finalists in general:

 

Simon Wilson: What a great cover. First rule: catch the eye. This one does that brilliantly. It’ll be in shops in a sea of cookbooks, most of them with interchangeable photos of food and grinning chefs, and that hot purple and even hotter red combo, along with the simple, strong use of words will be particularly effective. And the type design itself is both elegant and energetic. That’s smart too.

Next up, a book cover has to say something about its subject and its authors. Project some brand values. Cazador’s Dariush Lolaiay and Rebecca Smidt are well known to the core market for this book – food fanciers in Auckland – as the hipsters who run a wild game restaurant. But they’ve taken that reputation as a given. For all their loyal fans and for everyone else who’s heard of them, they’ve signalled that they’re different from and more than what we think. Here to surprise, because probably you expected a plaster of meat. Here to delight, too, because fiery warm reds and purples do that. And here to be sumptuous: Cazador’s food is feast food, a celebration of bounteous extravagance. Reds and purples might confound the cliché of furs and goblets and wooden platters, but they don’t confound the idea of richness. It’s a cover of great promise.

And if you haven’t heard of Cazador? That notice-me-now quality and the values inherent in the glorious colour – let’s call it marvellous exoticism – are spot on. What a great cover.


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