The New York Times has a slide show up called “Book Covers: Before and After” in which designers explain how they arrived at final book covers. For William H. Gass’ book Middle C, designer Gabriele Wilson says she wanted the cover image to illustrate the protagonist’s “middle” existence, hence the choice to use “the key of C, which is in the middle.” It was not, however, easy to get a C key. Wilson told the Times:
I asked piano-playing friends and piano repair shops in New York for a C key, to no avail. I called Steinway & Sons on 57th Street, and they connected me with Anthony Gilroy at their Queens factory. He was perplexed but entertained by the idea of shipping a single key to Manhattan. The next day I received a beautifully hand-carved ivory key, but I discovered that a full-size key is nearly two feet long. I called Anthony again to see if the factory could cut it shorter and add a black C sharp key. I photographed them from above on a giant turquoise Pantone swatch, aiming to give the ensemble a menacing, lonely mood. Once in the jacket layout, I paired it with the elegant, slightly traditional Sackers Roman typeface so as not to distract from the image.
Check out the full slideshow here.