• The Publishing Post

The Edge of Glory

As an art form, painted edges of a book have been in existence as early as the 10th century and have taken various forms ranging from vanishing painted edges to the modern day sprayed block of colour. Often thought to be a disappearing art found only on antiquarian books, intricate paintings most certainly remain a rarity. However, the technique has made a comeback in recent years in collectors’ editions with marbling and patterned fore-edge paintings.


The wonderful edition of sprayed edges, also known as ‘spredges’, which once felt primarily like a production luxury, is being much more frequently utilised in recent publications, much to the pleasure of readers everywhere. Reading a sprayed-edge edition feels special, with the extra addition of colour, words and images along the outer book edge adding further detail, symbolism and in some examples, a further extension of a book’s cover. With these creative editions, every inch of the book is an available canvas for design.


A Burning, Girl in the Walls and Devil and the Dark Water are beautiful examples of sprayed edges painted with patterns as a continuity to the cover design emphasising a particular aspect of the illustration representative of the book’s characters.


A Burning by Megha Majumdar

by Bushra Wasty


Published in June, this turbulent tale of three ambitious people in the slums of Kolkata has been given the special edition treatment with a hardback, patterned edge cover being released which will be found exclusively in Waterstones in January 2021. The top and bottom edges have been sprayed black with the fore-edges painted with the same pattern as the front cover giving it a stark contrast.


The cover design features bright colours of fiery orange, marine green/blue and teal flames that brings A Burning and its three different characters to life. With Kolkata in India as its setting, the vibrant contrasting colours on the cover of A Burning are an implicit nod towards the diversity of the characters and their pasts where one of them is navigating being transgender with aspirations to be a Bollywood star.

Keeping all this in mind, the seamless transition from the fore-edge to the book cover design is pertinent in the way it beautifully brings together the tumult of the plotline of Kolkata going up in flames in the wake of a terror attack and the consequences of the burning ambitions that drive its characters to an inextricably linked fate.


Fans of the paperback edition of Megha Majumdar’s novel released earlier this year will want to get their hands on this uniquely designed edition of A Burning with its electrifying cover and fore-edge art as part of a matching pair for their book collection.


Girl In The Walls by A. J. Gnuse

by Bushra Wasty

Girl in the Walls is cleverly portrayed with sinister, gothic undertones which are reflected in the cover and patterned edge design in this highly anticipated special edition release exclusive to Waterstones.


A large, old and eerie mansion takes centre-stage on the cover illustration with antique furniture and a locked door through the arches of the house alluding to the mysterious feel of this novel. The walls are deceptively demure in a soothing blue tone which, if observed a little closely, are patterned with swooping and sitting birds around curved branches in which the shadow of a girl resides.


To match the cover art, the edges of Girl in the Walls have been sprayed in the same blue tone and stencilled with the pattern to emphasise the walls of what is meant to be an inviting family home hiding a dark secret within its depths leading to a thrilling twist.

Lovers of contemporary gothic fiction will be clamouring to proudly display Girl in the Walls on their bookshelves.


The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Edges by Keaton Groves

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, originally published in October, was given the sprayed-edge treatment with two special edition design copies, one exclusive to Waterstones and another to Forbidden Planet. Both offer a further detail of its story to readers contemplating its purchase.

The Waterstones edition shows the artistic approach of lengthening the cover design to include the page edge, with this edition shown mirroring its cover with the same enticing waves that draw you under the depths of its storyline, making your eyes feel as if the waves of this design are not only flowing, but never-ending.


Forbidden Planet takes a darker approach with its design of a contrasting red colour complemented with black devil eyes stenciled against a sinister background. There is unease in this edition, just as there is unease in the darker contents of this book.



Both offer lovely additional details and an extra element of beauty to their editions, and hardcore collectors will be wanting to aquire both stunning designs for their bookshelves.