Some years back, I put up a contest here for a cover for the third edition of The Machinery of Freedom, and ended up with what I think is the best cover I've ever had. I am now just about to self-publish another book, Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, and it too needs a cover. The central idea of the book is that all human societies face about the same problems, they solve them in an interesting variety of different ways and they are all grownups, so all their solutions deserve to be taken seriously. I am not trying to find the best legal system, simply to understand a lot of real world legal systems and see what can be learned from them, including the problems raised by the different solutions and how they might be dealt with.
Part of the reason getting a cover that way worked last time was that there were a lot of readers of my blog who were familiar with the book. That will be less true this time. A late draft is webbed, however, for anyone curious.
My only cover idea so far is the title plus the names of the different legal systems scattered somehow over the page; this is an example of how that might be done. But I have no expertise in graphic arts, so was hoping that one of my readers could offer either a better version of that idea or a better idea.
The prize last time it was a signed copy of each of my books. I would be happy to do that again—or negotiate other terms.
Lady Justice meeting with some other anthropomorphizations of justice/law? Perhaps in the style of some 19th century painting of early colonists meeting with native americans?
This one should probably not be used.
A literal kangaroo court.
LAW AND ORDER: How Others Did It
I'm no graphic artist, but here's an idea:
A collage of images of historical judges/judge types, from ancient to modern and across cultures.
I don't have the graphics skills, but a collage of images from some of those law codes could be interesting if the styles are distinctive. A page of talmud looks very different from anything else you might have. Hamarabi's code would be distinctive in script. I don't know what the Islamic sources look like. For others, maybe related artifacts -- an Icelandic runestone, I'm not sure what else. Half-baked idea I know, but maybe it'll inspire someone else.
A "sentimental cartography" cover, with the systems and perhaps other legal concepts, would be pretty great IMO.
Find someone with a good "Ruth Vader Ginsburg" Halloween costume (https://mltshp.com/p/1EVFD, for example) and use a picture of that.
What might be effective is a bunch of illustrations of typical characters from each of the societies whose legal systems you discuss. Good luck finding an artist to do that for you...
Your idea for names can work and be stylish. Check wordle.net for way to do it. If you want to see how it can work out, I used wordle on a book cover I did at https://www.amazon.com/Sun-Tea-Chronicles-Quinton-Blue-ebook/dp/B0070CE4NK
My first thought was to do the scales of justice, but with a stack of large round coins (or something else symbolic, like law books spine forward) balancing on each side of the scales, each labeled with a different legal system.
You could also do that with a "primitive" looking set of scales, i.e. something like https://i2.wp.com/gillianhadfield.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cropped-rules-for-a-flat-world-cover1.jpeg?fit=840%2C235&ssl=1
Another idea would be scales & gavel, but with a flag or other symbol of each legal system on the cover.
I was thinking of a 3D version of David's suggestion with the names of legal systems scattered in space. The spatial dimensions could correspond to conceptual dimensions such as time or types of legal systems.
Similar to another suggestion...
What about an illustration of a jury box, with the jurors being characters representing different systems? These days, the artist would have to take care not to offend, but it seems like it could be done.
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