Suggestions for a poll on design wanted

We have debated a little bit which companies have the best designs. But I think it makes more sense to talk about books. Can you please give me some suggestions and second those suggestions you agree with. I will then put two polls together and we can see what people really think :-). Best and worst!

But suggest only ones you like here; not dislikes.


39 thoughts on “Suggestions for a poll on design wanted”

  1. I feel that most covers of chess books are too loud and too restless. As I wrote earlier the most beautiful are the ones from Jacob’s new series. I also like the NIC–covers of The Rossolimo Sicilian or The Ragozin Complex (except the colour on this one). Simple and tasteful.

  2. @jmws
    I agree, I like them stylish and not too loud and colourful – preferably designed by someone who knows a thing or two about graphic design. I really like the design of the GM Preparation series. I also like the design of ‘Mein System’ in the hardcover edition of Niggemann. Another thing is consistency: in my opinion it is strong to have a recognizable style which stands out from other publishers. The GM Reportoire series is a good example of this.

  3. I’m a minimalist. It’s a chess book, so put the title, the author’s name, and a photo of a chessboard or pieces on the cover, with good composition, and be done with it. Keep it simple. I’m thinking of the old Tiger’s Modern and Berlin Wall books. Not too much color; colors that seem vibrant or subtle now might seem tacky in a few years. And not too much “art”. Think of all the tacky book designs from the 70’s that were done by “artists”.

    I know you asked only for likes, but… My rating would be, from best to worst; the Tiger’s Modern era books (simple, tasteful); the GM Rep series (good for the most part, but some color choices are a bit garish to my eye); the GM Prep series (muddy colors, too cluttered and “artsy”). But that’s just me.

    That’s for paperbacks. I don’t like any design on hardcovers, except for the dustjacket, if any.

  4. Gilchrist is a Legend

    I think colours that do not have too many contrasts (such as purple with green, or blue with red) in the majority of the cover are best, since it might distract from the eye too much. I think the Playing the French cover is very good, the position on the board with the aforementioned opening, and the title at the top of the cover. However, I would rather the previous font used without italics, such as in the Grandmaster Repertoire covers, but nothing is wrong with the current font.

    I think the second new paper, if it is indeed new paper (the paper used for GM11 and after), since it seems like it is fuller than the paper after GM6, but not too thick like in GM1. Is the binding more reinforced? A strong binding on the framework for the pages for long lasting is always good.

  5. I agree with what a few of the others above mentioned. Some of them are a tad loud, like the contrast in colors of the GM Repertoire books.

    A more monotone, calm look to me is better. This is Chess, not American Football.

    I think books should take on covers similar to “Advanced Chess Tactics” and “Mating the Castled King”. I like the idea of not using the same color for all books. For example, the first one mentioned is Red, the second is Green. I think if you stick with a cycle of maybe 5 colors, like Red, Green, Blue, Yellow (not glaring, more like the Yellow you’d paint a house room), and Purple, this way, even if someone doesn’t buy every QC book, they will have enough of them such that they can group them together on their shelf, and not have consecutive books be the same color so they are easy to find.

  6. Some of the more monotone covers that still feature a creative design look are nice, like 1.d4 – Beating the Guerillas.

    However, while I know you said you are looking for positive, not negative responses, since the United States is part of your audience, I think it’s important to point out that covers like “Sicilian Attacks” needs to be avoided. There are too many problems with gun violence, especially in the younger generation, in the states. The latest was a recent highschool grad shooting a bunch of 1st graders in Connecticut.

    Just like how Stephen King had publishers put a stop to publishing “Rage” (Which he wrote under the name Richard Bachman) after Columbine (a famous school shooting around the turn of the century), I think that illustrations of things like guns on the covers of chess books are completely, 100% INAPPROPRIATE!

  7. I do not know how to call the layout of the covers in GM Arthur Jusupov’s books (Build, Boost and Mastery series), but my taste is… they are quite beautiful ones! I do not like the covers of Jacob Aagard Grandmaster Preparation series (except the cover of Endgame) – they are “too random” to my taste.

    As to other publishers covers – I like Everyman Chess: especially those “Starting Out – series”. I am quite demanding, but I would rather decide what covers I like or dislike… by clicking at some groups of covers (even if they are a half of normal size).

    I have bought most books of GM Arthur Jusupov’s books as much as “My system” and “My system in practice”. I appreciate the clearness of the text, diagrams, fonts and very good approach of making the books “planned ahead” (it is visible by the table of contest and index).

    In a summary: I do not care AS MUCH as the cover… when the book and its context is really great! I hope it might help – I value your APPROACH to publishing, readers, authors and your… INDEPENDENCE! Good luck Quality Chess – I keep my fingers crossed to maintain your hight level of publishing chess books! Quite a feat!

  8. Gilchrist is a Legend

    If other publishers are discussed, then I think Chess Stars publications The Safest Grünfeld, Open Games For Black, and Berlin Defence had nice covers. The first had a simple overhead view of the chessboard with moves of the main opening played, the second had a chessboard as well, but with I thought an interesting background, but the third had a very enterprising cover with what looks like a large amount of artistic effort, probably a scene that looks like East Germany (or maybe even West Germany?) 1973 with background included.

    Even though I prefer simple covers, perhaps occasionally if a very artistic cover that alludes to the opening or theme is accomplished, then it could be good as well. For example, if it existed or were project, a hypothetical GM Repertoire book on the Leningrad dutch could be named in Dutch on the cover and title only to add more creativity with respect to the opening, e.g. “Grootmeester Repertoire __: De Leningrader-Nederlandse Defensie” with backgrounds of Amsterdam, Leiden, Rotterdam, Maastricht, and/or Den Haag and on the other half of the cover, a background of Leningrad, so the cover basically literally is portrayed in the cover art: Leningrad (picture/artwork of Leningrad) Dutch (picture/artwork of Dutch city/cities). Just a random idea.

  9. I forgot to mention that I also quite like the covers of your ‘Classics’ series (Suetin, Romanovsky, etc.). Simple and classy with a nice combination of white and orange-ish.

  10. Well, I think, using a picture of the chessboard, unobtrusive colors and not to many fonts, is the way to go if you don’t want to make any mistakes.
    Most covers that strike me as ugly have too bright colors or are just poorly designed (like the original Yusupov-Series …).
    I actually like the more cartoonish covers from Kania, like “The King’s Gambit for the creative aggressor”, because they don’t take themselves too seriously. “Mayhem in the Morra” strikes as successful design in the same vein.
    The GM Prep. Calculation cover always looks to me like a disassembled swastika, so that’s odd and surely not intended. Otherwise, the GM Prep-oldfashioned design is quite nice, or at least distinctive.

  11. I really like Jason’s work, the minimalist design and the choice of color palettes. Still it’s never too late to (partially) ruin a good design: just look at the title CALCULATION…
    The font was OK for Positional Play (btw it’s the cool American Typewriter known for the I LOVE NY logo), but for Calculation this brilliant idea to “strenghten” it.
    I can’t believe that a professional designer made this mess on a cover. I bet it’s the touch of the same guy that picked the font for the titles of Fabrego’s book or the medium-bold as text in Practical Chess Defence.
    On the second volume the author became “uppercase” on the 1st and smaller on the spine. There was a reprint or I am the lucky buyer of a different serie? 😀

  12. This is an off-topic question:


    My name is Yoni, and I am a player in the 2000-2100 level. I am trying to improve from my weak level to a 2200 level (so that i can be one of the better player in my city Ottawa which has a few NMs), I have purchased quite a few books from you and found all of them excellent.

    However I am not quite sure WHAT to study, And by that I mean in what order. Specifically, when going through Yusupov books (well ok i am only reading the second one but all of them have the same structure) he mixes up all of the topic (eg tactics, calculation, endgames, strategy), While when talking to another IM he recommended concentrating on one topic at a time for a few months (eg calculation for 4 months, then strategy for a few months etc etc). His analogy was “You can’t hit 6 people at the same time but one person is a different story”. On the other hand you did produce books which concentrate on one subject at a time (For example the Grandmaster preparation series).

    Seeing that i really work hard on my chess, and that i really want to improve so i spend a lot of time on my game this is a crucial question for me:
    What is the right order? Or do both methods work, depending on the person you ask? If so, which method is more commonly used by strong players?

    Thanks in advance for taking your time answering my question,

    PS i would love if more than one person could answer my question eg I am interested in Aagaard’s opinion since this subject is one of his obsessions,but i would like to hear what John Shaw as well as Yusupov thinks! 🙂

  13. @Patrick
    I think this is complete rot. In the first place, the audience that QC books are targeted towards are not likely to be prone to gun violence. And I don’t think a picture of a gun on a chess book is going to stimulate another shooting, anyway, any more than the swords on the Alterman gambit guides are going to stimulate somebody to run amok with a machete, or the sledgehammer on the Attacking Manual will cause somebody to take a ballpeen to his significant other.

    Whether or not cartoonish weapons have any place on the cover of a QC book is another matter. Why not just call the book “Annihilate Your Opponents With the X!”?

    I believe the shapes you refer to on the Calc. book is intended to represent the shape of a knight’s move.

  14. Neil Sullivan

    I find the cover of all the McFarland paperbacks to be quite to my liking. The nine Yusopov books as well as other QC titles like Soviet Middlegame Technique are very nice as well.

    I know you don’t want negative comments, but you owe it to yourselves to google the first “Art of Bisguier” book (not the later Russell Enterprises 2nd part). Hands down, it’s the worst I have ever seen. It’s so bad, it’s good! 🙂

    On the subject of shameless self promotion, you could also google my book, “Chess is a Struggle”. My sister-in-law, a talented graphic artist, did that cover.

  15. Gilchrist is a Legend

    With respect to the binding of the book, especially hardback versions, I think that the glue attaching the pages with what looks like a thick layer is good for durability, like the ones I hve for hardback versions of GM Repertoire. I am not sure if the binding is considered a design, but it refers to the interior of the book.

    I have GM13 in front of me right now, and along with the other hardbacks I have, there is a cloth separating he hardback cover and the glue to the pages, I think this is a good binding design, probably about 20 mm of glue. For me I think more glue and thicker binding is best.

  16. I recently received the two volumes of The Complete Hedgehog and they have clearly the best design. Simply a fantastic cover with a wonderful font (btw, overall maybe the best chess book out there). So my vote goes to Mongoose Press (although I’m not very impressed by Wojo’s Weapons design-wise).

    The only books I own from Quality Chess are the GM Rep Series which are pretty okay design-wise but I’m not terribly impressed by the design I must say. But I think it doesn’t matter that much in the end.

  17. Ray :@The Lurker Let’s start another discussion on politics . Books don’t kill people, people kill people .

    Sorry. Shall we just agree that weapons on chess books are inappropriate, and agree to disagree as to the reasons why?

  18. @Ronny

    I find it annoying that The Complete Hedgehog covers have pawns on the back rank. I agree that they are great books, though.

    I like simple covers with a board position on them. GM rep are quite clever with flags from the author’s (of the books or the openings) country. What about English 3, though? Was purple the only colour left?

    I think Kasparov’s Everyman books with lots of mini-photos work surprisingly well.

  19. Chess Blueprints by Yakoviev, The Complete Hedgehog by Shipov, Mastering XXX by Hellsten, Beat the Guerillas by Bronznik

    In general anything without a chessboard. When I saw GM Preparation I was actually moved by appreciation. I nearly posted on your blog at the time but was embarrassed that it was too trivial for such an august forum. Unfortunately they won’t grace my bookshelf, but I’m waiting breathlessly for the Patzer Prep series.

    With chessboards, the only two tolerable ones are Everymans’ Play the XXX series and your own GM Guide series.

  20. I like a nice binding that is easily readable on a library type bookshelf. The GMR series 1-9 and 11 have nice lettering with nice contrast. GMR 10 and 13 (bindings) the authors stand out better than the book title which seem a bit awkward to me……coloring contrast to me is important. There are many people with color blindness that have difficulties seeing red and green so suggest you use care with those colors……as far as the cover…..doesn’t really matter to me…….again I am more concerned with the words and color contrast.

  21. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Regarding boards on the covers, would it be plausible to put the choices on the cover, e.g. 3…c5/4…Qxd5 against Tarrasch board, a board with 3. Nc3 Nf6, and a board with 3. e5 c5 4. c3 and whatever the recommendation against it shall be. But there is nothing wrong with the current board and cover design.

  22. Gilchrist is a Legend

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Well based on simpliciy and the effect of having interested customers search furter, GM Repertoire series covers have this best effect I think. It may be that they are GM Repertoires in themselves that cause much interest, but having reflected, perhaps ironically the sole chessboard with one position causes the buyer to see the repertoire lines in the excerpt. However, I would buy the GM Repertoire books even if I were unable to see the excerpt.

  23. Good design can persuade me to buy a book I otherwise would not. I would have resisted the expensive edition Olms French advance books otherwise, despite confidence in the author and the publisher. Lovely books to see and work through, with covers that are consistent with their other books and which have a creative dash.

  24. Jesse Gersenson

    Ray wrote, “Another thing is consistency: in my opinion it is strong to have a recognizable style which stands out from other publishers.” I agree. If it were my choice, every one of your spines would use the same font face and layout.

    Just took a look around my bookshelves and assembled 4 spines which grab my attention (two of these I’d bought at the large bookstore down the street from your old office in Glasgow. Could go window shopping for binding ideas…)

    image of spines:

    1. A Confederacy of Dunces
    2. Polsko
    3. Call to Action
    4. Letters of Graucho Marx (shows headshot of Graucho)

    Polsko and Call to Action use high contrast font-color/background color combination. Both colors are monotone – and the titles have plenty of ‘white space’ or padding, in all directions around the title. Their titles use mixed cases (wc?) which makes the separation of words easier to see and, since lower case letters are shorter and vary in height, serves to increase visual interest (can see the contour lines of the words) and increases the padding. ALL CAPS IS MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. ESPECIALLY SO ON A BOOK’S SPINE WHICH IS THIN, AND THE BUYER IS SKIMMING LOTS OF TITLES EACH WITH IT’S OWN FONT SIZE, FACE, COLOR. THEY’RE STANDING AT A DISTANCE, SO THE LETTERS APPEAR CLOSER TOGETHER – CAPSAREREALLYHARDTOREADWHENTHEREARENOSPACES which may be the issue with all caps, they put too much burden on the space characters between words. ThatSaid,WhenWeWriteInMixedCaps,TheDistinctionBetweenWordsIsClearlyClearer. Take home point, titles should appear in mixed case.

    The pictures appearing in the middle of the spin is worth a think. In a store of 10,000 books I walked out of that big box bookstore having bought two!

  25. Many really good points that we will consider. When I get time (read April) I will make a poll over 10 designs from this blog.

    Personally I have bought lots and lots of books because of a cool cover. Am I shallow?

  26. Jesse Gersenson


    1. A Confederacy of Dunces – Grove Press
    2. Polsko – Lonely Planet
    3. Call to Action – Thomas Nelson
    4. Letters of Graucho Marx – Pocket Books

    Someone already mentioned this, but it bears repeating – the poll ought to show cover/spine (?) images. I’ll do the grunt work, get me the images when it’s polling time.

  27. Favourtie covers:
    Life and Games of Mikhail Tal (photo of Tal in action on Everyman algebraic edn);
    Fire on Board II
    Chess Tactics for Advanced Players (the original small hard cover dust jacket: simple text and limited graphics);
    Pawn Sacrifice! by Timothy Taylor (the best of the CG covers from Everyman, IMHO)

    Looking at the spines of my chess books half-way across the room, the following stand out:
    Art of Attack in Chess (white and black on red)
    Nunn’s Chess Openings (dark blue on bright yellow)
    the Avrukh opening books (the big 1.d4 really helps, better than the Marin spines)
    Reinfeld’s two “1001…” books (the “1001” at an angle on the dust jackets is surprisingly eye-catching, the only text on my shelf that isn’t at right angles)

    here are some that don’t:
    Kasparov MGP series (small font, only the roman numerals are clear)
    van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics (pale red on bright yellow)
    Alexander Alekhine’s Best Games (Henry Holt with tiny white font on black background; but the out of focus cover photo is nice)

  28. I like chess pieces. From a artistic point of view.

    Like pic of some nice pieces. I would like to see a pic of some really old worn out pieces as well.

    I seen a pic of chess pieces on a tax book and thought it was great.

  29. As I said elsewhere I do like the matte finish of the covers and the general “feel” of the QC books. I do not find the covers with pictures of wooden chess boards very enticing or aesthetically pleasing. If there must be such a photo I prefer “Play the Scandinavian” type to “The Classical Slav” type, the “King’s Gambit” type is between the two aesthetically. For my taste you best covers are on “Attack & Defense,” “Strategic play,” “Positional Play.” The cover of “Calculation” I liked at first but then it sometimes reminds me of a broken swastika—well, somehow it prompted such thoughts.

  30. I also prefer the simplicistic style. The Grandmaster Battle Manual has a cover I like.
    The above mentioned Shipov books look to me as if they were printed in Hogwards.

  31. @Mark Moorman
    Yeah, other people have pointed that out after it was printed. It reminds me of a logo for public organisation in the UK, which looked like a man having “fun” when you turned it sideways… It was NOT the intention, obviously…

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