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A Hospital Bed at Home

The author says:

A Hospital Bed at Home is a linked collection of true stories about the experience of being a carer during the weeks, months and years that can stretch between the day someone you love is diagnosed with an incurable, fatal disease and the day of his or her death. Couples facing separation after forty years together; a workaholic with three small children and a dying, angry wife; an Irish immigrant called home to nurse an ailing father who cannot, or will not, eat; a Buddhist couple striving for serene acceptance of a brain tumour… The patients and carers profiled in these stories bring to their challenging situations the gamut of typically human strengths and weaknesses, plus all the baggage of their pre-existing relationships. The narratives are intensely personal and biographical, but the insights and information they contain about illness, caregiving and dying at home have profound and general relevance. The author’s reflections on these topics are woven throughout, linking the individual stories and concluding with a gritty memoir about caring for her own mother, an anxious optimist who was ravaged by cancer.



Nathan says:

I like the idea of a view through the window from the implied bed.  If I were going to go with that, I’d use one image that shows the full window frame (or most of it).  I think the image-upon-image here is distracting, especially when both of them are essentially the same idea.

Don’t be afraid to go larger on the fonts; there are no specific details in the cover photo that you risk obscuring.  You can see from the thumbnail that the title is awful tiny, and both the subtitle and byline are almost not there.

I’d also find a font or two with more character.  The first thing I’d try is something with a handdrawn vibe to it (but still clearly readable), to support the idea that this is home-based, almost do-it-yourself medical care, as opposed to an institutional setting.

Other thoughts?



  1. The photo is beautiful, simple and serene but it’s not strong on its own. The version “blued” to become the background doesn’t do much for me either. Not sure I have an alternative to suggest for a background if you want to stay with this basic design though.

    The fonts, font use, and sizes are a disappointment. This book calls for a warm, friendly font, and a much stronger use of the text, as Nathan pointed out.

    You could consider using the main image (in normal colors) larger (full cover with bleeds) with maybe two bands of color (maybe with deckle or torn-paper edges that give them a softness) to hold the title, by-line, etc. Not sure how that would work though. You’d have to try it out and test some color choices (possibly the pink from the flowers?). I worry, though, that the picture alone might look too snap-shotish. You might be able to do a simple, restrained watercolor filter on it that would reduce that impression without becoming an artificially filtered frankenstein image.

    The other thing I’d consider is finding a way to get an image with a person or people in it or comforting hands holding other hands or, I dunno, something more personal, people-centered.

    I think this is a case where, if I were designing, I’d get the book’s theme and purpose firmly in mind and go image hunting to find the right mix of colors and content to show serenity, support, comfort, etc., but without being hokey or trite. Sometimes you just have to do that search by feel and when yo fin just the right thing you’ll know it.

    The book handles a difficult subject and the cover needs real finesse and professionalism to sustain credibility.

  2. I like the idea of the photograph, and how it stands off the background with colour and a pop of pink, and I don’t really mind the repetition in blue, but I’m just left wanting to stand up and peer into the lower right corner to see what I’m missing out that window. It doesn’t really have a focal point. And I agree that some human element might make it more approachable.

    The title, sub title and author name all need to be larger, for sure, and more interesting. I’m thinking this looks like one of the Helvetica family. (Very mundane) I think it needs a font with just a touch more character.

    And, you don’t have to make all three items the same font. (though I would keep it to two font families) I might go with a serif font for the title, an italic version of the same font for the subtitle and a san serif for the author name. You can play around with all caps or small caps to see it that helps too.

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