Thursday, May 28, 2009

Judging Books By Their Covers

Was the advent of the Kindle a death blow to book jackets everywhere? Its anonymous white form, its electronic screen-- every book looks the same. I'm a big fan of dust jackets. I, for one, have purchased more than one book based on its cover. After all, it's an entire industry, establishing the book as a particular genre. FaceOut Books has featured some really well designed book jackets, some of which remind me of 1930's pulp fiction, and others are like Blue Note jazz LP jackets from the fifties. One of the covers featured, the graphic, orange one seen above, is by David High, of High Design, a graphic design firm based in Athens, NY. Take time to check out his site-- you'll be amazed at the variety of styles he's created.
Despite the old adage about judging books based on covers, I confess I've regularly profiled readers on subways, airplanes, and waiting rooms, assessing them based on their reading selection. Is it the English major in me, or is it as Northrop Frye argued in the Educated Imagination, our thoughts are shaped by words, and thus, our reading choices shape our thoughts. By the way, being caught reading Northrop Frye definitely says something about you.
When scanning the memory banks for the best cover of all time, the image that kept popping up was the original cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. How many American adolescents have taken the magnifying glass to the nude figures set in the iris' of the eyes? If you have a favorite cover, please do tell-- I promise we won't judge you at all!

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