I am an expert of many things- such as the art of procrastination, the art of ice cream eating, the art of being awkward- but the one I’m most proud to say I’ve mastered is the art of finding great book bargains. Book shopping is my super power and I pretty much have a laser vision for awesome titles for cheap prices. Being well-versed in book sales and bargain hunting, here are my tips for all you mundanes who hope to find some nice discounted books!

  1. Keep yourself updated for book sale and discount announcements. Follow your favourite book retailers and subscribe to their newsletter via email so as not to miss any sale news!
  2. Make it a habit to visit your local second hand book store as often as you can. You never know when they’re restocking with newer old titles you might be interested in.
  3. Should a book sale last through a course of time, go ASAP. You don’t want left overs, don’t you?
  4. Spend wisely. Just because there’s a sale doesn’t mean you absolutely have to buy something. There will be book sales that just suck and have no good titles at all so know when to surrender and save your money for another time.
  5. Familiarize yourself with good backlist titles. Books on sale are usually titles from 2 years ago or longer so knowing your fair share of past releases will help you find some good ones at book sales.
  6. Leave no stone unturned. You might be surprised to find a gem in there somewhere.
  7. Know your publishers and imprints. Trust me- this is a good trick when rummaging through book sales, especially when you’re looking for YA titles. Sometimes you aren’t familiar with any of the book titles or authors but when you spot a book by Speak, Harper Teen, Razorbill (some of the most common pubs whose books I find on sale) you’ll know it’s your genre. Peruse and see if the book interests you.
  8. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Since a lot of books on sale were published a few years ago, chances are, the cover designs look very outdated. Still, if the title, the author or the synopsis on the back cover caught your attention, give it a chance.
  9. Grab all the books you’re possibly interested in. You don’t want anyone else to find them while you’re still contemplating whether or not you’ll buy them. (Be a nice book shopper and put them back later if you’re not getting them though.) Ponder on that later when you’re done combing through the titles on sale.
  10. Finally, inspect the titles that you’ve taken hold of. Look them up. Check Goodreads or Google while on the go and read about other bookworms’ thoughts on the bargain books you found. Consider if they’re worth buying at their price.

So there you go! With all the upcoming book sales now that the holiday season is near, I hope you’ll find these tips helpful and find lots of great book bargains!

What are your tips for finding great book bargains? Were any of mine helpful? Share your thoughts! xo

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Hell yeah, Stay Bookish has a new feature! I have always loved book cover features- my favourites including A Reader of Fiction’s Cover Snark, Pop Goes The Reader’s Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover, What She Reads’ Cover Palette, The Novel Hermit’s Holy, Mother Cover!- and have always wanted to do one here on the blog too. So I came up with Cover Creatives.

As a design enthusiast, I want to focus on the creative aspect of book covers: the ideas, the process and the creative designers behind it. While I’ll do the usual ‘collective’ of book covers, I will also be having some wonderful book designers over for interviews, guest posts and such. Today, I’ll be kicking off this new feature with a Q&A with the one and only Regina Flath, along with all the beautiful covers she’s worked on! :)

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Cover Creatives Interview: Regina Flath


Hi Regina! To start- how did you get into the book cover design business?

I went to the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, as an illustration major, originally intending to be a children’s book illustrator. As I went through the program and did projects where I placed my illustrations in context (ie, designed them into book covers and interiors) I fell in love with that process. Around my junior year I switched my focus from primarily illustration to primarily book design. One of my professors is married to an art director at another publishing house who very graciously let me interview her about her career. After speaking with her at length, I was decided: working in house as a book designer was what I needed to do. So for every illustration project I did at school, I did another design project to go along with it. I did my thesis project (4 pieces in a series for your target market) as book jackets. During our portfolio day I happened to meet an art director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who spoke to me and liked my work. I impressed upon her that while I was an illustrator, I saw myself as a designer and really wanted to work in-house. A few days later she called me in for an interview and just after graduation I started my first design job at Harcourt. From there, my career took off and now I’m working happily as Designer at Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.


How would you describe your creative process?

When I get a project, the first thing I do is dip into the manuscript. I read 98% of the books I work on (but for a series paperback repack, for instance, I’ll read book 1 but probably not the other books in the series unless I get sucked in!). Reading the manuscript completely informs my design choices. From the tone of the story to the overarching themes to the visuals present in the plot, I pull on text heavily as I formulate my ideas. Depending on the book, the budget, and the schedule, I’ll approach my concepts in a couple different ways. Sometimes I’ll dive into one of my favorite stock agency sites and then start combing through with key words to try to find a compelling image that hits all the relevant points for me (tone, theme, visuals, as well as market considerations like what’s already out there/what would work on the shelf next to this book). Other times I’ll be struck with a specific concept that I want to execute and depending on the complexity I’ll either find stock and photoshop it together myself or I’ll hire a photographer and do a photo shoot. After I have imagery, I work on the typography to pull it all together.


Which book cover you’ve designed are you most proud of or is your favorite?

My favorite cover is always the most recent cover I finished! Right now it’s a tie between Diary of a Haunting (which is going to have OFF THE HOOK special effects like a printed case cover and a clear acetate jacket; I also made an animated gif of the cover so you can see the creepy effect the acetate will have on the print book when you check it out on the web!!) and Anne & Henry, which is my take on some of my favorite things: historical retelling and punk rock posters.


Have you experienced any challenges when it comes to designing book covers? What are they and how do you deal?

There are almost always challenges when designing covers. Any kind of commercial art requires pleasing a lot of audiences. For a book designer, that includes the design team internally, the editorial team, the marketing and sales team, the book buyers, the author, and hopefully the consumer. That’s a lot of people who have to agree on something that’s pretty subjective! Often that will be the biggest hurdle, making sure everyone is on board with a particular design. If not, I’ll have to go back to the drawing board, which happens pretty frequently. The good thing though, is that there is ALWAYS another idea. That’s the creative part of being a creative professional.


Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

The short answer to this is everywhere. The fun answer to this is tumblr. To be honest, it depends on the book in question, where I’ll pull inspiration from. I’ve always been of the mindset that if you’re working as a creative professional, you have to be able to take your personal experiences from the world and combine that with what your source material is (books in my case) and cook that up in your brain to create interesting design. I mentioned the gif I made for Diary of a Haunting above. My love for gifs comes from haunting tumblr for funny gifs from movies or shows I like. Sometimes a silly tumblr post about whatever fanfiction I’m into currently will jog my brain into thinking about a romantic book cover I’m working on in a different way. I did a super fun cover shoot for a book called The Summer of Chasing Mermaids that was inspired by my love of a burlesque dancer here in NYC named Veronica Varlow. On the surface, the 2 have nothing to do with one another, but this dancer had a great portrait done with a bunch of stuff she likes surrounding her and I was able to translate that into the cover imagery for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids which is about a singer who loses her voice and uses things around her to communicate (and get involved in some romance!).


Which is more important for you when it comes to book covers- illustration/photography or typography?

I think this depends on the cover (I say this a lot I guess!). If it’s a type driven cover, then for sure the typography is most important. If it’s a cover that’s a strong visual, then the imagery is most important. For any good design, there’s hierarchy. Something needs to have the most importance visually (whether type or imagery or whatever) in order to organize the image elegantly for your eye.

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What do you think makes a great book cover?

A great book cover to me is one that invites you into the book, engaging the viewer by making him/her think, feel, or just plain get interested. Book covers don’t exist without the books they wrap around and that interplay of interesting and arresting design/imagery that works to entice a reader is what I hope to do with my work. There are a ton of designers I know that knock this out of the park! I totally have design envy/crushes on Lucy Ruth Cummins here at S&S, Erin Fitzsimmons at Harper, and Sara Wood, also at Harper (in the adult book team) who is a fellow UArts alumna! Those ladies do work that exemplifies what I think makes great cover design.

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Thank you so much for imparting us your wisdom on book cover design, Regina! You rock! I look forward to seeing more of your designs on bookshelves. Book nerds, do check out more of Regina’s work on her website and give her a follow on Twitter!

What do y’all think about this new feature? What else do you want to see related to book covers & their designs? What do you think of Regina’s works? Leave some love!


Novel Portraits is a weekend feature where I showcase book photography! Photography is my second most favourite hobby next to reading! A love child of the two dearest things to me- book photography is awesome and thus demands a segment on the blog. To read more about the feature, check out the introductory post for Novel Portraits.

You know where all gorgeous book photography can be found? TUMBLR. I follow a whole lot of bookish Tumblr blogs and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be interviewing one of my favourites today. Jasmine of The Fictionologist‘s photos are simple, clean and lovely and I really liked getting to know more about her. I sure hope you’ll do too! :)

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Behind The Lens: Jasmine of The Fictionologist

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Hello! Care to tell us a little about yourself?

Hi everyone! I am a seventeen year-old girl from sunny Malta. My name is Jasmine but most of you out there know me as thefictionologist from Tumblr. I adore books and sometimes I blog about them, mainly through photography! I also have a passion for literary terms, beautiful quotes and writing. One of my deepest desires is to have my name next to those of the literary giants and for my words to linger and dance in readers’ minds through time.

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How did you fall in love with reading? What do you love most about books?

The way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. (See what I did there? I told you that I love quotes!) I’ve always enjoyed reading a book every now and then, but I wasn’t a constant reader. The moment I realised how reading is somehow much more important to me than breathing was when at age fifteen, I picked up Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The language was so eloquent and I quickly became attached to the characters. It absorbed me body and soul and I liked that feeling of being lost in someone else’s imagination and not wanting to leave that world because that’s where you seem to belong. What I love most about books is the brilliant use of language (imagery, wit… you name it!), highly imaginative plots, the feelings they evoke in the readers, the exploration of deep emotions, being able to relate to the characters, and being able to love books in such a way that makes life more bearable. And their smell, of course!

Novel Portrait - The Last Banquet

What are some of your recent favorite reads?

Recently, I loved The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield that was gifted to me by Sophie over at The plot is compelling with its complex enigmas and the writing is brilliant! The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell is a masterpiece as well. Such a timeless and imaginative novel! Also worthy of mentioning is The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham which is an achingly beautifully written, bittersweet novel that left me feeling stunned for days after I had finished it!

Novel Portrait - The Great Gatsby

How did you take up photography as a hobby/profession? When did you start taking book photos?

As most readers, I love watching people talking about books on YouTube and I initially wanted to create a channel, not a blog. However, I soon realised that it would be so much easier for me to write rather than speak, because English isn’t my mother tongue and I’d feel shy. Besides, I didn’t really like the idea of filming let alone spending hours editing videos. So I discovered Tumblr, which has an amazing book community, and created ‘thefictionologist’. I wanted my little blog to have as much content as possible, but I also wanted it to be mostly my own. I admired other bloggers’ book photography and I wanted that for my blog too, so in the summer of 2013, I picked up my sister’s camera and took some pictures. I knew nothing about photography, but it was exciting and I was very determined to show the world how pretty my edition of The Book Thief was (and still is!). Being an amateur, I took a ton of photos and I’m pretty sure that I clicked on every icon that Photoshop has, but when my first shoot was ready to be uploaded, I felt immensely satisfied. In fact, book photography is a hobby that gives me a lot of satisfaction because it is an art that involves imagination and the realisation of it, just like writing!

Novel Portrait - Penguin Book Stack

What cameras/photo equipments do you use to take your book photos?

I use my lovely sister’s Canon EOS Rebel T3i with either the 18-55mm lens or the 55-250mm lens. I enhance my photos by using Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes, I use my phone as well, which is an iPhone 5s. There is a brilliant — and free! — app called VSCOcam which does wonders!

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Aside from book photography, what other types of photography do you like?

Fashion photography because I am a true girl at heart! In fact, clothes and accessories feature alongside books in many of my photos — it’s my way of combining two things I love together. Oh and I love photos featuring the sea and vintage objects too, especially typewriters and cameras!

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Lastly, what advice or tips would you give when it comes to taking book photos?

I will mostly address those of you who would like to take photos but think that you cannot because you are not professional photographers; I am not professional too! Believe in yourself, pick some books that you just love and will make you feel super comfortable, and go for it! If you do not have professional equipment, use your phone. It works just as fine, if not better! Experiment a lot and be original. Do not be afraid to ask people for help in order to achieve that dream photo which you have in your mind. Make it enjoyable! Don’t stress yourself out because your photos are not perfect; creativity counts most. And lastly, never mind the weird glances people throw at you when you’re standing on a table just to have that perfect angle… :)

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Thank you, Jamsine, for sharing more about you and your passion for books and photography! Book nerds, don’t forget to check out The Fictionologist on Tumblr and follow Jasmine on Twitter too!

What do you think of Behind The Lens? What are your thoughts on some of the photos Jasmine shared? Do you like taking book photos too? Any other bookworm-slash-photography-enthusiasts that you would like to see on Behind The Lens? If you want to be featured on Behind The Lens, or have any suggestions, shoot me an email!

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