The following designs all share a common theme – they appear to have been written by hand.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris. Published by Little Brown and Company, 2000.

What could have been quite a boring cover is saved here by the unusual leading and different styles of the text, giving the feeling that this one sentence was written by four different people. I also like the subtle mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.

A later paperback edition gives the different styles of handwritten type their own colours:

The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll be Dead

by David Shields. Published by Vintage USA, 2009. Designed by Jamie Keenan.

The theme of multiple authors writing the same script is continued in this design, but this time, instead of a blackboard, it appears that all of the text has been drawn on-screen with a mouse.

The publishers have chosen a different design for the paperback edition, which has none of the bold individuality of the hardback design:


by William Boyd. Published by Penguin, 2005. Designed by Gnikram Nevets.

This cover does an excellent job of using typography to evoke childhood memories of schooldays. I especially like the supporting visual elements, such as the doodles and sketches.

Scenes of Academic Life

by David Lodge. Published by Penguin, 2005. Designed by So Me.

This title is in the same series as Protobiography above, and its design follows a similar theme.

Bang Crunch

by Neil Smith. Published by Vintage Books USA, 2008. Designed by Jamie Keenan.

In this design the typeface is made up of thick strokes that are reminiscent of a black marker pen. Emphasis is given to the design by the linking of the letters, which incorporate the subtitle (stories) and the author’s name. The image of the cat give the letters an oppressive nature – their weight may crush it!

The Autograph Man

by Zadie Smith. Published by Vintage Books USA, 2003. Designed by John Gall.

This handwritten cover makes good use of a sketchy, repetitive line to give weight to the text. The purity of the design is continued by the brave decision to have the supporting text in the same typeface.

The Angry Island

by A. A. Gill. Published by Phoenix, 2006. Designed by Marion Deuchars.

The jerky, bold, uppercase typeface used for The Angry Island does a good job of representing anger and authority, with a nice use of supporting phrases from the book.


by Anne Elizabeth Moore. Published by The New Press, 2007.

Taken to an extreme, a cover will, instead of attempting to be handwritten, actually be handwritten on a supporting object; in this case, a t-shirt.


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