Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done is a YA novel that takes place in New York City of 2083. Anya, the main character, is the daughter of a notorious chocolate crime boss. (In this age, chocolate and caffeinated beverages are illegal.) Her life gets complicated when she falls for the D.A.’s son. The hardcover of All These Things I’ve Done came out in September 2011, and the paperback is out in May 2012. This book is the first in the Birthright Trilogy.
As you can see below, the hardcover and paperback book jackets are very different. BookPage interviewed Zevin about her novel, her plans for the trilogy and why book jackets matter. This is the first in a two-part Q&A about cover design.
Come back tomorrow for a conversation with two Creative Directors from Macmillan!
In your America of 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, water is rationed and museums have been turned into nightclubs. Do you think this is where the United States is headed?
Gabrielle Zevin: I’m no soothsayer. However, I do believe that food lobbies exert enormous, at times insidious, power over what we eat, that our water supplies are not being protected as much as they probably should be and that, in general, people are more interested in smart phones than museums.
What’s scariest about Anya’s world?
Gabrielle Zevin: The end of book culture because it means I’d be out of a job. Luckily I won’t be alive in 2082.
If coffee and chocolate really were illegal, would you give them up for good or figure out a way to get your hands on the contraband?
Gabrielle Zevin: I’d give up the chocolate in a heartbeat. The coffee I’d miss but I’d find a substitute. Something I know about myself is that I’d make a lousy criminal.
What’s coming next in the Birthright series?
Gabrielle Zevin: Because It Is My Blood publishes in September 2012. The title is a reworking of a line from an old Stephen Crane poem in which a man meets a Gollum-like creature who is eating its own heart. The man asks the creature if the heart tastes good. The creature replies that it’s bitter but he likes it “because it is bitter and because it is my heart.” Oddly enough, that’s what the book is about for me. The Crane poem is very dark, but it’s also about the relief that comes from surrendering to your true nature. That’s Anya in Because It Is My Blood.
What do you like best about each cover: the hardcover edition (with a dripping chocolate heart and a subtle listing of five details about the story), and the more graphic and futuristic paperback edition (which clearly sets the story in New York City)?
Gabrielle Zevin: I appreciate how bold the hardcover design is—it’s so clean and minimal. I love that, underneath the jacket, the book itself looks like a chocolate bar. (Unfortunately this is not a detail that people buying online or in e could appreciate.) I think it’s very smart that the paperback uses black-and-white photography because, to me, that says crime and retro-future. And I love how strong-looking the girl is. She captures Anya, which is important. All These Things I’ve Done is a book about a character more than it is a book about a world.
How important is cover art when you’re browsing in a bookstore (or online)? Do you judge books by their covers?
Gabrielle Zevin: Covers matter. In my experience, a different cover can make you think you’re reading an entirely different book.
Readers: Why do you think cover design is important? Do you factor in book jackets when buying a book?