Liars and Outliers Cover

My new book, Liars and Outliers, has a cover.

proposed cover

Publication is still scheduled for the end of February -- in time for the RSA Conference -- assuming I finish the manuscript in time.

EDITED TO ADD (8/12): The cover was inspired by a design by Luke Fretwell. He sent me an unsolicited cover design, which I liked and sent to my publisher. They liked the general idea, but refined it into the cover you see. Luke has a blog post on the exchange, which includes a picture of his cover.

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM • 64 Comments

Comments

RandyAugust 12, 2011 2:26 PM

I think I understand the point of the scatter plot, but I'm not so sure the general public will.

Maybe I'm missing something. Bruce?

Randy - kindalikedthegroupsofpeoplebetter

mcbAugust 12, 2011 2:28 PM

Wait, you can all see it? Have I been missing photos all along? What's up? PS I think the cover it excellent (and not just because people who won't get it aren't your target audience).

SomeblokeAugust 12, 2011 2:48 PM

An observation & a question:

The observation: having just re-read the thesis again (http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/05/status_report_t.html), the books premise seems especially apt given the recent riots we have suffered here in the UK.

The question: will there be a Kindle version?

Bruce SchneierAugust 12, 2011 3:35 PM

"I think I understand the point of the scatter plot, but I'm not so sure the general public will. Maybe I'm missing something. Bruce?"

I don't think so. I like that it's subtle.

Tristan WaddingtonAugust 12, 2011 4:10 PM

I love it. Very well executed and just subtle enough to be intriguing.

Happy to hear there will be a Kindle edition. As the author, is your cut of the revenue any different on the Kindle than in print?

Bruce SchneierAugust 12, 2011 4:51 PM

"As the author, is your cut of the revenue any different on the Kindle than in print?"

My royalty is about the same. The Kindle price is cheaper than the hardback price, but there isn't a physical book to produce and ship.

Bruce SchneierAugust 12, 2011 4:51 PM

"I still think you should have had a contest!"

Publisher hated the idea.

Bruce SchneierAugust 12, 2011 4:53 PM

"Dislike subtitle."

It's accurate, though. The book really is about how security holds society together.

scottnottheotherscottAugust 12, 2011 6:37 PM

"Publisher hated the idea"

Gosh, I just don't understand what publishers have against free publicity and the establishment of a vibrant cult following.

Unless maybe they're afraid of a cover that goes against the flow of their market research.

I guess it's not particularly efficient in terms of time and effort for them, particularly if they want a say in judging the contest. But it still seems to me like this is an opportunity missed.

Nice cover, though.

aikimarkAugust 12, 2011 6:39 PM

@Bruce

I've been looking for a video I watched recently on the development of human language. The narrator asserted that its purpose was to both inform (our kin) and keep secrets (from others). If/when I find it, I'll post it in this thread.

Henning MakholmAugust 12, 2011 9:18 PM

The graphic looked just like abstract meaninglessness (bath bubbles? lens flares? crisply defocused astronomical negative?) until I clicked through to see Luke's original. Now I can see what the artist must have meant, but I'm skeptical whether an uninitiated observer will be able to reconstruct the point just from the final version.

DanielAugust 12, 2011 10:06 PM

Bruce, I admit that I haven't read the book yet :-) so only you can truly testify how accurate the subtitle is. But for me it sounded arrogant; like claiming that the door lock is the foundation of the house or the moat is what holds the castle together.

From what I had read on this website previously I thought the book was about "How Security is Used to Hold Society Together". If I am wrong about that then clearly you are making a grander claim for the role of security in society than I thought. If such a grand claim is truly your ambition I take back my opinion that I dislike the subtitle.

I dislike the whole book now.

(I'm teasing.)

Nick PAugust 13, 2011 12:04 AM

That's messed up. The software turned a smirk-level joke into a total fail. I had the blink tag before "ing". Picture the post that way. "What, no blinking neon fonts allowed?"

Bruce SchneierAugust 13, 2011 1:19 PM

"Will there be a non-DRM ebook version?"

I don't know. The publisher -- Wiley -- deals with that.

Bruce SchneierAugust 13, 2011 1:22 PM

"'Publisher hated the idea.' Gosh, I just don't understand what publishers have against free publicity and the establishment of a vibrant cult following."

They were fine with me posting the cover drafts and soliciting comments, but didn't want the final decision dictated by a fan vote.

And I think you are all pretty vibrant as you are, although not particularly culty -- and I mean that in a good way.

Bruce SchneierAugust 13, 2011 1:53 PM

"Bruce, I admit that I haven't read the book yet :-) so only you can truly testify how accurate the subtitle is. But for me it sounded arrogant; like claiming that the door lock is the foundation of the house or the moat is what holds the castle together.

"From what I had read on this website previously I thought the book was about 'How Security is Used to Hold Society Together.' If I am wrong about that then clearly you are making a grander claim for the role of security in society than I thought. If such a grand claim is truly your ambition I take back my opinion that I dislike the subtitle."

I don't think I'm making the grand claim. And I don't think there's a useful semantic distinction between "how security holds society together" and "how security is used to hold society together." The former is shorter and cleaner, which I like. I certainly don't mean to say "how security is the only thing that holds society together." That's just ridiculous; security is necessary but not sufficient.

"How door locks secure houses." "How door locks are used to secure houses." No, I don't see a difference.

B. D. JohnsonAugust 13, 2011 3:17 PM

"...but I'm skeptical whether an uninitiated observer will be able to reconstruct the point just from the final version."

I'm fairly sure there won't be many uninitiated observers reading it. Not a knock against the sales potential, but more along the lines that people who read it would be the type who could at least understand and appreciate the cover. It's not the type of thing you'd be buying in an airport news stand.

Although, it would be nearly the pinnacle of irony if it was.

VlesAugust 13, 2011 8:39 PM

I'm impressed with how the feedback and suggestions given were taken to heart and used to shape the bookcover and title. It's very kind and generous of Bruce to allow such debate and opinion help shape the presentation of a book that must have cost him a lot of time and effort to write. Has this happened before?

Looking forward to the new year, a beer and a quiet moment with this book on the balcony.

anonymousAugust 14, 2011 3:03 AM

The blues dots are the liars, the red dots the outliers, the black dots the security, and the rest of society are gray dots? I wonder if there's a code somewhere in the dots.

Henning MakholmAugust 14, 2011 9:00 AM

@BDJohnson: "I'm fairly sure there won't be many uninitiated observers reading it."

Since "uninitiated" in this context means anyone who has not read this Luke's blog post so that they've seen the understandable version of the cover, I'm afraid that really spells doom for sales.

AndyAugust 14, 2011 11:24 AM

Nice. Hoping that if Wason's selection task is covered, recent work is cited which argues against a "cheater detector module".

hungerburgAugust 14, 2011 4:42 PM

Its a very nice graphic; I am happy to see that the world is full of people doing good work. It refines the idea of the original design in a non-trivial way. If it meets the subject (I have not read the book), thats what it is to convey.

Richard Steven HackAugust 14, 2011 9:32 PM

"The book really is about how security holds society together."

I'll be interested to see how you make that argument - even the weaker argument that allows for other factors.

Toby SpeightAugust 15, 2011 5:12 AM

Kudos to Luke and to Bruce - it's great to sit here on the sidelines watching this all come together, and (as an open-source software fan) I felt a warm glow when sharing the ideas for the cover led to better ideas being generated.

@Art (message #2): I think there *has* been a contest - Bruce invited submissions, and Bruce selected a winner. I actually prefer that over a vote from the less-informed masses.

@Bruce - I still have one doubt about the subtitle. I think it should be "societies" rather than "society", as (IIUC) you don't claim there's a single society, but many different kinds of society, some overlapping. Our canonical example being the mafioso, who is a member of both the mafia and the local populace, but is betraying one of the two much of the time. Not to mention many forms of formal societies (governments) and informal groups all have different security needs and practices. To re-use Daniel's house lock analogy, the current subtitle is like saying "how a door lock protects the house", where you could be saying "how door locks protect all kinds of house".

Just my opinion, of course.

Toby SpeightAugust 15, 2011 5:13 AM

BTW, since nobody else has mentioned it yet - I love the layout and nice, clean font. It makes me believe that reading it will be a pleasure. :-)

hungerburgAugust 16, 2011 5:54 PM

@toby: society is an abstract term, while societies evokes the thought of telling stories, or anecdotes. so if bruce wants to say something, that matters with respect to any society, then the singular is fine. at lest with me.

TomAugust 17, 2011 7:29 AM

Congratulations. I think this hits the perfect spot of subtlety. You don't get it at first sight. Then you notice red=liars and blue=outliers and suddenly the cover gives a very good idea about what to find in the book.

I hope this will sell like hell and thus prove your crowd-sourcing experiment successful. This is also a good example on how important covers are and on how difficult it is to bring title and cover together and create something that sounds good, looks good, makes sense and just fits. I could well imagine this being the basis of some english/design/linguistic term paper.

TomAugust 17, 2011 7:36 AM

In my previous comment, red=blue and blue=red. Obviously, the color-coding on the cover is different from my intuition. As I consider red more dangerous and agressive than blue, does this mean outliers are more dangeroud than liars? And will I know this after reading the book? Amazing how "rich" the combination of title and cover is. Lots of space for interpretations. Kudos!

Natanael LAugust 18, 2011 5:06 AM

I bet there's some hidden message in there. Either using steganography or plain math. Maybe it's the true last number of Pi that Bruce just recently found?

noncompismentisAugust 20, 2011 10:51 AM

Great cover I'm seeing perimeters...must form perimeter...resistance is futile...

alAugust 21, 2011 11:36 AM

The new dot pattern is nearly an outline of the US. You may have to squint to see it. Very clever.

TomAugust 22, 2011 3:44 AM

@al: True! One more way to interpret the cover. I wonder whether Alaska can be seen on the back cover :)

KevinSeptember 20, 2011 2:42 AM

Well, I spent ages diverging my eyes and messing with their focus, but I couldn't see the 3D picture no matter now long I stared at it... :-)

ChanochDecember 15, 2011 4:39 AM

I think you should canvas for warstories which capture the following liers and outliers point -

"Societal security can become a tool for those in power to remain in power"

with you being the arbiter

Graham BlandDecember 15, 2011 11:31 AM

I think you sould give the free copies to people based on your opinion of the best excuses given as to why they need a free copy. You may want to set some guidelines, truthfull vs outrageous for example, would add a touch of levity and they would make interesting reading.

ShneorDecember 15, 2011 3:57 PM

How to distribute free copies - Allow one month for applications, one application per person, and select every thousandth (or whatever number makes sense given the number of applicants) for a free copy.

HariniDecember 15, 2011 5:21 PM

Bruce,
I think you should give out the copies strategically to couple of libraries and or universities along with few marketing teams that can help provide publicity.

I am sure your publisher already has stats for major segements that will likely adopt to this book sooner than other segments. You should divide the copies some to keep the buzz going and some to create the buzz (outside of US if not already in plans).

chekDecember 15, 2011 6:45 PM

One decent way to give away copies of the book is to determine the number of Facebook friends around the world. Break that down into countries and set a number, say for every 1,000 friends in each country, one will be randomly picked to receive the free book.

Dave TylerDecember 16, 2011 8:04 AM

Giveaway book

How about a crytopuzzle

Like the first person who has all these letters in their name

REEVLAYDT !
( or something better LoL)

Greg KeelingDecember 16, 2011 8:53 AM

One could reasonably suggest giving books to people who can encapsulate the concepts in Haiku, but that would discriminate against the non-poetic of us.

Perhaps the best reason to give a book to someone is based on a one-sentence rationale of why they deserve one for free - and why they would benefit from the knowledge gained and what they would do with the book after reading it (perhaps then, 3 sentences).

Best wishes for the holidays.

Mark WillDecember 22, 2011 12:08 PM

How about comparing a SHA-2 hash of the text of each idea submission with one of the entire book (or just the foreword or some other part) and awarding the books to those with the numerically closest matches?

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