Sunday, October 16, 2011

Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 US Edition (designed by Chip Kidd)

Although it'll be all over bookstores in a few weeks, I thought I'd give you an early peek of Murakami's new novel, 1Q84 (which I've decided to pronounce in my head as "Q-teen eighty-four"):

The book was originally published in Japan in three volumes, the first two released simultaneously and the third volume a year later. In an interesting move, UK publishers are trying to recreate that gap by releasing Books 1 and 2 in a single volume and Book 3 separately a week later... but here in the US we get all three volumes in one massive, 950 page collection. It's better this way, but very tough to read on a crowded subway train!

So far, the novel is a great time. I won't go too deep into plot details (and save it for a full review at but the story is split between two protagonists and deals with a hitwoman, a teenage sci-fi writer, a doom cult, and little lilliputian monsters (or something).

What I would like to focus on is Chip Kidd's excellent jacket design. The dustjacket is made from a very thin, nearly-transparent paper. The "1Q84" on the jacket is printed in color, but underneath, the year is written in white. On the spine of the jacket, only the "1" and "8" are printed, leaving the actual spine of the book to only have the "Q" and "4".

Sounds so simple, but it makes a great effect, and one that very successfully captures the twinning, mirrored themes of the novel. Here's what the jacket and boards look like when they don't line up straight:

And another shot with the jacket almost removed:

Lastly, there's some craziness with the page numbering. One side of every page-spread has the title and page numbers printed backwards! Take a look:

While very cool, I find the numbering just a little bit frustrating. The backwards and forwards numbers change sides inexplicably throughout the book, sometimes in the middle of a chapter. If there is some reasoning behind this switching, please let me know! I'm so curious...!

1Q84 hits bookshelves on the 25th. Murakami fans, I wish you happy reading! I'm very much enjoying the novel and I'm sure you will too.

Currently reading:
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Currently listening to:
Something on WFMU

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't figure out the reasoning between how the book's title and the page numbers appeared on each spread.