In his 25 years as an art director at Knopf, Chip Kidd has churned out iconic book jackets for literary geniuses from Cormac McCarthy to Orhan Pamuk. Whether you love him or hate him, you’ll probably agree that Kidd’s got a penchant for the literal. McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses features a horse’s mane; Pamuk’s Snow dons—what else?—a snowy tableau. But in his design for Haruki Murakami’s much-anticipated new novel, IQ84, Kidd takes a more nuanced approach to communicating a book’s plot (not just title) through the jacket design.
Kidd explains the basic storyline: The main character, Aomame, begins to suspect that she’s passed into an alternate reality. To represent the two realities, he designed a velum wrapper that creates a negative-positive effect on Aomame’s portrait printed on the book itself. The cover can be lifted to reveal a similar but different image underneath, to symbolize the other reality. (The same effect is repeated for the title, printed on the book’s thick spine, and the picture of Tengo, another lead character, on the back cover.) The front matter illustrates a subplot about the appearance of two moons, which are pictured on several spreads but, Kidd says, “never at the same time on the same spread.” The designer leaves off with a teaser: There’s a surprise in the book’s pagination, which we’ll leave for you to discover on your own.