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The Hitchhiker's Guide to Book Cover Design

I spent a while thinking of a book cover to redesign. Eventually I landed on Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is a fun, easy-to-read sci-fi novel that highlights absurdity and random occurances linked together. Here's what the back of the book has to say:

"Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together, this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formaly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod's girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he's bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!"

BRAINSTORMING AND RESEARCH

Here are 42 mostly covers and packaging from Hitchhiker's Guide:

I grew up with the Illustrated guide and most recently bought the Mass Market Paperback to reread. 

From research on book covers I realize that a lot of hitchhiker thumbs are used. I think the symbol of a hitchiker's thumb is too obvious. There are also several symbols from the book being repeated, such as 42, mice, the robot Marvin, and the words "Don't Panic." There are obviously very many memorable characters and events from this book. 

The rightmost cover second row down has a puzzle all about the number 42 on it. I like the idea of seemingly random objects coming together to make something meaningful. It's sort of how the book is written. 

My favorite covers are all on the top row: the right, left, and center covers. The left cover has these four circles that remind me of Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine.

And it chooses to emphasize Douglas Adam's name rather than this long title.

The one on the right I really like because it has old encyclopedia illustrations on the cover as a background. The typography I don't think relates but I like the idea of relating it to an encyclopedia. Especially since, in the book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is compared a lot with the Encyclopedia Galactica.The Encyclopedia Galactica is similar sounding to Encyclopedia Britannica, which is what I believe Douglas Adams is trying to reference. 

And the center one I like for its simplicity. It emphasizes the title; a title that already evokes lots of images. I could really play with the typography.

The story was originally a BBC Radio comedy broadcast, which eventually became a book series, and then eventually became a game and a movie. The title of the book was inspired by "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe" by Ken Welsh. 

Here are some of my first ideas:

1. Homage to travel writing covers like "Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe"

2.  Homage to Encyclopedias, such as Encyclopedia Britannica

3. Letting the typography speak for itself

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