Chip Kidd Discusses the Book Jacket for Haruki Murakami's Forthcoming Novel 1Q84

“Having had the honor and pleasure of designing all of Haruki Murakami’s books in hardcover since The Elephant Vanishes, I?was especially looking forward to working on 1Q84, as it is his most ambitious and absorbing novel yet (and that’s saying something). Also, logistically the title is a book designer’s dream, because its unique four characters so easily adapt it to a very strong, iconic treatment. The plot follows two seemingly unconnected stories that eventually weave together. The first involves a woman named Aomame, who in the opening scene finds herself descending a service staircase off a busy elevated highway in Tokyo to escape a traffic jam. Once she gets to the bottom and out onto ground level, she eventually comes to believe that she has entered an alternate reality, one only slightly different than what she had known. She refers to this new dimension in her mind as 1Q84 (the book takes place in 1984 and in Japanese ‘Q’ sounds just like ’9′), with the Q standing for “Question Mark. A world that bears a question.” This concept becomes one of the novel’s major themes.

Upon reading the manuscript, it soon occurred to me that the duality of Aomame’s situation could be represented by an interaction of the book’s jacket with the binding/cover underneath. By using a semi-transparent vellum for the jacket, and printing the woman’s image in a positive/negative scheme with the title on the outside layer and the rest of her on the binding, once the jacket is wrapped around the book it ‘completes’ the picture of her face. But something odd is definitely going on, and before the reader even reads a word, he or she is forced to consider the idea of someone going from one plane of existence to another.

“Plus, always to be considered, it looks pretty cool.” —Chip Kidd

1Q84 will be published on October 25, 2011.

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Outer vellum jacket for 1Q84:

Binding cover for 1Q84 underneath vellum jacket:

Composite of vellum jacket over binding cover on finished book: