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The Big Book Look

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In order to be immediately identifiable by the buyer in a retail space, a book needs to communicate its genre and subject in a matter of seconds. Big Books, usually penned by famous authors or celebrities, have a very established style: singular photo (perhaps of the author or pertaining to the subject matter), the author’s name in large type, and some blurbs or award stickers. These design elements have come to be recognized as features of Big Books. The Big Book Look borrows these elements to create the same magnitude of importance in the buyer’s mind as a Big Book with a well-known author when they encounter such a book cover in any retail environment. The Big Book Look is not immutable; it diversifies over time, changing to reflect technological and aesthetic advances. This report explains the major difference between a Big Book and the Big Book Look. While explaining how Penguin Random House Canada acquires, handles, and publishes a Big Book, this report aims to make connections among Penguin’s initial cover designs, some very iconic Big Books which perpetuated Big Book Looks, and books written by debut authors which are marketed as Big Books with the Big Book Look. Depending on the popularity of a Big Book, its look is often exemplified and recognized as a visual standard in its genre. This report also expands on decisions that contribute to the second format redesigns of a Big Book and a book with a Big Book Look.
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