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There are a few in each collection I work with that are wonderful reads, but they have terrible covers. It always disappoints me when patrons (particularly teens) pass them up, especially when they seemed excited about it based on a book talk or a reader’s advisory interview– the story sounds great, but the cover is such a turn-off, they choose something else to read, or worse, nothing at all!
If your library has a computer lab and the resources for desktop publishing software like Photoshop (or the much cheaper Photoshop Elements– a basic version that has lots of flexibility for non-professional design projects), holding a Book Cover Mash-up Contest can be a great way to demonstrate the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and to engage teens with new titles that they might not pick up otherwise.
Here’s a brief outline of the program:
Modifications / Expansions
Incorporate design styles: You can tap into great design blogs and online resources to talk about book design and different styles teens might want to expore while they create new book covers. Begin with this site for inspiration (tons of vintage / international covers): http://50watts.com/
Make it low-tech: If your library is not quite so wired, you this contest can easily be modified to be a low-tech/high-touch program that maintains the goals of moving books, getting teens involved with the collection, and talking about art and design. Simply substitute computer lab time for an open art lab using craft materials (glue, discard magazines for collages, markers, colored pencils, etc.) Print out pre-sized book cover templates for all participants.