Microcosm: Unveiling the New Book (Or At Least Its Cover)

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At least for me, getting to see the cover of a new book for the first time is a great morale boost. The designer usually finishes it up right around the time when I’m starting to wonder if the book will ever become real. Recently I got the new cover of Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life. I wrapped it around another book and stuck it on my mantelpiece, to remind myself that soon (May, actually), the book will be in bookstores. But I can show it to you now, because it’s been posted at Amazon and at the Random House web site.

There’s still plenty of work for me before it becomes more than a cover. This week I have to bear down and finish working my way through the copy-edited manuscript. Now’s the time when the window begins to close, when I begin to hope against hope that nobody does any important research on E. coli until well after the book comes out.

One reason I like this cover is that it’s not the typical computer visualization of a microbe. There’s something about Petri dishes that can convey more. You feel that something is emerging–something that fascinates us, but something a bit ominous as well. I’m also starting to get the feeling that designers really love Petri dishes. Two of my recent articles were cover stories, and in both cases, a Petri dish became the cover. Here’s a dish for piece on the work of evolutionary biologist Paul Turner I wrote for the Yale Alumni magazine, and here’s a video of the making of the dish that went on the cover of Seed magazine for my story about the meaning of life. So the book cover makes three.

I’ll have more to say about Microcosm in the spring. But if you can’t wait to pre-order, be my guest.