Favourite book covers

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If you wanted to make me fall in love with you, you could do worse than starting off by buying me this book:

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1840006935.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

What are your favourite book covers? Why aren't book covers usually as iconic as record covers? Etc.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 08:14 (seventeen years ago) link

http://faylicity.com/book/book1/image/women.jpg

I like this one be/c it's simple and the drawing of the woman is something Bukowski did himself.

I wonder how much input the author has on what's going to be on the cover. Does the publisher have the ultimate say?

(And an aside about album covers, check out these bad ones. Makes me wish authors would feature themselves on their own covers in an embarrassing/dated set-up.)

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 10:28 (seventeen years ago) link

(Iconicness answer is to do with covers changing each edition, no? Though I guess it doesn't explain why covers never /become/ iconic enough to be maintained...)

Gregory Henry (Gregory Henry), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 10:57 (seventeen years ago) link

That book at the top is a Mitchell Beazley one. They also did a history of paperback covers with iconic typorgaphy etc.

My girlfriend works for the company, so we have lots of these sort of things.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:03 (seventeen years ago) link

The Blue Hammer has a 'Fabulous Book Cover' of the month feature, where I found this beauty.

http://www.thebluehammer.com/images/fathers.jpg

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:10 (seventeen years ago) link

Makes me wish authors would feature themselves on their own covers in an embarrassing/dated set-up

Like the cover of Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon? A terrible book with a terribly fey black and white photo of Clive on the cover. Not as the author photo, but as the cover. Naff.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:23 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm partial to a lot of those New Directions and Grove Press covers from the 50's and 60's, but I don't know if i could pick one. And I love all the George Braziller covers for Janet Frame's books. The cover for Owls Do Cry might be my fave.

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:36 (seventeen years ago) link

I am terribly fond of this author-pic cover http://caae.phil.cmu.edu/Cavalier/Forum/meta/images/Rortycv.gif
(v poor scan, though)

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:40 (seventeen years ago) link

Oops, I forgot, i love the original cover of Mcluhan's The Medium Is The Massage. Especially the long hardcover edition from the 60's that i have. Talk about striking! I also learned this when i started googling for an image to link to. I never knew this. The quote is from Mcluhan's son:

Actually, the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the
typesetter, it had on the cover "Massage" as it still does. The title should
have read "The Medium is the Message" but the typesetter had made an
error. When Marshall McLuhan saw the typo he exclaimed, "Leave it alone!
It's great, and right on target!" Now there are four possible readings for the
last word of the title, all of them accurate: "Message" and "Mess Age,"
"Massage" and "Mass Age."”

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:45 (seventeen years ago) link

I was trying to find a picture of the signet paperback of catcher in the rye that i had as a kid and i found a page with a slew of catcher covers. some of them are quite nice:

http://members.home.nl/wolthuis/sal3.jpg


some of the best covers are those pulp paperback covers from the 50's for serious lit books. They tried really hard to make Camus sexy.

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:54 (seventeen years ago) link

I have a turn of the century paperback of Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. It's handpainted and lovely, if falling to pieces.

Goblin Market! Yeah, well I used to be a goth.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 12:56 (seventeen years ago) link

There was a very good article in an old issue of McSweeney's about the various covers of 'Lolita' and how much VN hated them all. He wrote the publishers very exacting corrections, which they promptly ignored.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:08 (seventeen years ago) link

http://www.glyphs.com/art/beardsley/yellow-l.gif


Not a book cover exactly, but this has fascinated me since I was a child.

Michael White (Hereward), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:17 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm amused by those garishly awful covers that they put on "young adult" versions of novels like "Frankenstein" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde" that show cartoonish screaming men with green skin in ripped clothing...I've just found one-it's published by Tor.

Jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:23 (seventeen years ago) link

Tor has a wonderful book-cover history.

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:27 (seventeen years ago) link

Just in case there are people who have never seen this site:

http://www.strangesisters.com/

great collection of lesbian pulp fiction paperback covers

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:34 (seventeen years ago) link

http://isbn.nu/cgi-bin/isbnbookcover?isbn=0812567102

Jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:34 (seventeen years ago) link

damn-can't link

Jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:34 (seventeen years ago) link

This one, Jocelyn?

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0812567102.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:41 (seventeen years ago) link

How did you know?

Jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:42 (seventeen years ago) link

Vibes.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 13:51 (seventeen years ago) link

There's something wonderfully scary about this one that I stumbled upon when googling for a different version of this book's cover. Ack, sentences!
http://cheshiredave.com/mastication/covers/200310/images/bronte-full.jpg

Makes me wonder if Wuthering Height is the canonized book to have the highest percentage of really terrible covers.

Øystein H-O (Øystein H-O), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 14:22 (seventeen years ago) link

A look we all aspire to

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/2264019182.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Mikey G (Mikey G), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 14:26 (seventeen years ago) link

The hardcover of this book is just beautiful:

http://www.fantascienza.com/catalogo/Cover/Y1574.jpg

The book itself I couldn't get through.

Casuistry (Chris P), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 15:32 (seventeen years ago) link

Why aren't book covers usually as iconic as record covers?

In part, because they keep messing with book covers. For me, there's only one true cover of this book:

http://www3.cerritos.edu/fquaas/graphics/catcher.gif

...and it's iconic -- at least for me. But that's just the edition that was around when I was growing up; I've talked to other people who thought other editions were the iconic edition and mine was some johnny-come-lately.

(Another book that I'm not at all fond of. Maybe I'll need to find some that I actually like.)

Casuistry (Chris P), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 15:35 (seventeen years ago) link

This book cover by Jason Kottke has really impressed me.

The cover is in a cross stitch pattern, a detail view shows it better:

Fred, Wednesday, 5 May 2004 17:24 (seventeen years ago) link

http://javasbachelorpad.com/babylon.jpg

tokyo rosemary (rosemary), Wednesday, 5 May 2004 21:12 (seventeen years ago) link

Actually a better answer to JtN's original question is this:

http://www.granarybooks.com/books/clay/cover.jpg

The book's cover is not bad but inside it has replicas of all sorts of fantistic "lo fi" book covers.

Casuistry (Chris P), Thursday, 6 May 2004 05:48 (seventeen years ago) link

I love that cross stitch one!

Archel (Archel), Thursday, 6 May 2004 08:57 (seventeen years ago) link

I used to like my BBC tie-in versions of 'Sons and Lovers' and the 'novelization' of 'Slade in Flame', which you can now enjoy in CD and DVD form, but it's not as good. I think the lettering was bigger, for a kick off.

http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/B00008NUX2.02.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 6 May 2004 13:24 (seventeen years ago) link

I bought Everything is Illuminated based on the cover, although at that point I hadn't noticed that the title was also on the back but upside down - after a week of looking stupid on the bus I was ready to rip the cover off. Lucky the book was worth it.

As an aside and being a sucker for free advertising, I should point out (as the girlfriend who works for Mitchell Beazley) we do also have some other splendid titles of a similar ilk - Magazine Covers, Front Cover, Album covers and Hip Hop Cover Art (with the rather splendid if slightly incomprehensible quote from Eminem "This book is like a walk down hip hop memory lane. Brings back memories of myself coming up." If anyone can explain quite what that means, we'd be grateful ...)

Cathryn (Cathryn), Thursday, 6 May 2004 14:38 (seventeen years ago) link

Some great stuff here. Vermont Girl, those bad album covers had me laughing out loud. And Scott Seward, thanks so much for the commentary on "The Medium Is the Massage." I have the paperback somewhere, but when I was with a friend once at a flea market, we found it at a used-book table and I showed him the title. He was stunned. (And it just goes to show how valuable the work of a proofreader can be! I'm in that line of business myself, of course.)

As far as covers go, I've bought books for that reason only, especially in England. I have a paperback of Virginia Woolf's short stories that comes to mind--a vase of flowers on a table in an empty hallway--got to dig that out and read some of those stories again. Much more accessible than her novels.

Carol Robinson (carrobin), Friday, 14 May 2004 21:33 (seventeen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
three months pass...
Revive!
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1840004215.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
I read bits of this last night while upgrading computer stuff. Fantastic. It is an amazing study of design and influence through the years.I wish the library had the children's one above that JtN posted.

jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 15:01 (sixteen years ago) link

I love the covers Edward Gorey used to do before he started doing his own books. See examples at:

http://www.goreyography.com/west/paper/paper01.htm

Mr. Jaggers, Wednesday, 8 September 2004 15:50 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't like a few of the covers on that book cover, though! ("Ariel", whatever the mouth is, the George Mackie.)

Casuistry (Chris P), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 16:00 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't like the "Ariel" one either, the mouth is "Only When I Larf"-Len Deighton. Mr. Jaggers-I love the Edward Gorey covers for the Russian novels series.

jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 16:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't like any of the covers on that book cover!

Fred (Fred), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 18:50 (sixteen years ago) link

Hmph.

Collardio Gelatinous (collardio), Thursday, 9 September 2004 22:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Sorry, trial and error here.

Collardio Gelatinous (collardio), Thursday, 9 September 2004 22:31 (sixteen years ago) link

I love that mouth Len Deighton cover; I picked the book out of a discard bin just to have the cover, actually.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 10 September 2004 06:18 (sixteen years ago) link

That image might have been too large. But it's a pretty good cover!

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 10 September 2004 07:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Really noticing the Panther editions of Genet and Moravia bks lately:

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/02/ciu/62/df/04ec36c622a0cb59ad9eb110.L._SL500_AA240_.jpg

xyzzzz__, Monday, 26 October 2009 20:58 (eleven years ago) link

Not sure I'd call it a favourite, but this cover for William Trevor's now disowned first novel is certainly eye-catching.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2481/3840588509_c3ec0e3647.jpg

When two tribes go to war, he always gets picked last (James Morrison), Monday, 26 October 2009 22:30 (eleven years ago) link

Always liked this cover and that corresponding ones of the other two books from back when I was a nipper, I guess because they were innocent and menacing at the same time, in an abstract kind of way.
http://www.corrupt.org/drupal/files/images/the_city_of_gold_and_lead.jpg

When Baron Saturday Comes (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 27 October 2009 13:53 (eleven years ago) link

one month passes...

http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1219399875m/277017.jpg
'Nose-diving the City', wish I could afford the original, which is in some museum in Italy.

Carl, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 21:33 (eleven years ago) link

seven months pass...

Love this cover for the Dutch version of The Judas Window

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4142/4855292547_07dfe65708_b.jpg

Hide the prickforks (GamalielRatsey), Friday, 6 August 2010 13:24 (ten years ago) link

from here btw.

Hide the prickforks (GamalielRatsey), Friday, 6 August 2010 13:27 (ten years ago) link

One of our meeting rooms (I work in a library) has posters of some "iconic" Penguin covers, mostly 50s and 60s - not sure if I'd recognise many of them as the definitive cover personally, and I don't think any of the ones I've read came in the same cover, but the posters are pretty great, I like that meeting room.

(posters are from these guys, according to the note I wrote in a previous meeting. I must've been concentrating really hard, as I jotted down that URL and "brodie/huxley/catcher/brighton rock/WOTW", compared to 6 words on the actual meeting)

rah rah rah wd smash the oiks (a passing spacecadet), Friday, 6 August 2010 15:14 (ten years ago) link

I think of this as totally iconic:
http://www.philipkdick.com/covers/dadoesbr.jpg

and was surprised to learn it wasn't the original US cover, which I guess disqualifies it from real icon status. That is the UK first edition, though.

rah rah rah wd smash the oiks (a passing spacecadet), Friday, 6 August 2010 15:20 (ten years ago) link

I am tempted to get this poster of Fontana covers
http://8.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kvt2kapqni1qz7nxjo1_500.jpg

Stevie T, Friday, 6 August 2010 15:21 (ten years ago) link

not sure if I'd recognise many of them as the definitive cover personally

Me too, but wow, that Shakespeare one is deeply evocative of school for me xps

Chaim Poutine (NickB), Friday, 6 August 2010 15:21 (ten years ago) link

Notice that Pound doesn't get one of the more swastikarish ones, but Trotsky does xp

Chaim Poutine (NickB), Friday, 6 August 2010 15:23 (ten years ago) link

that one of the fish telling secrets made me lol irl for some reason.

xp: that gaddis book cover freaked me the eff out when I saw it and I couldn't stop looking at it for days after it was in my possession. Now it's so familiar I think I'll go through a little mourning period when it leaves my bed side table.

peacocks, Friday, 6 August 2010 15:23 (ten years ago) link

Also lol Nietzsche xp

Chaim Poutine (NickB), Friday, 6 August 2010 15:24 (ten years ago) link

I wish I had that edition of The Recognitions. I have the black Penguin Classics one which I like less.

franny glass, Friday, 6 August 2010 15:42 (ten years ago) link

Notice that Pound doesn't get one of the more swastikarish ones, but Trotsky does xp

Comrade Vyshinsky has exposed the traitor Trotsky's villainous ties with the Hitlerite power in open court! Long live Stalin! Long live Yezhov Beria!

alimosina, Friday, 6 August 2010 16:40 (ten years ago) link

Marcuse, Laing, Reich, Fanon, Gramsci... very much of its time.

alimosina, Friday, 6 August 2010 16:45 (ten years ago) link

Love that Gaddis. I saw it just after I finished reading my library's copy (they have the pink one) so I didn't bother but I really should have.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 6 August 2010 20:38 (ten years ago) link

Covers of Lanark

alimosina, Friday, 6 August 2010 21:34 (ten years ago) link

i really dislike book covers with inset pictures, especially ones where the aspect ratio of the picture is opposite from the book (sideways rather than tall). i wish the paperback 'against the day' were designed like the hardcover.

j., Saturday, 7 August 2010 02:20 (ten years ago) link

five years pass...

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61ETZX3MAHL.jpg

Humean froth (Sanpaku), Thursday, 10 December 2015 07:44 (five years ago) link

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CVaa1wLU4AAwZSw.jpg

him sad

mookieproof, Thursday, 10 December 2015 19:13 (five years ago) link

I had to collect more of that company's output: the best (of many, many awful covers); http://causticcovercritic.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/monkeys-throwing-faeces.html

as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums (James Morrison), Thursday, 10 December 2015 23:00 (five years ago) link

First one is more like The Bros Karamazov, amirite?

Fetty Wap Is Strong In Here (cryptosicko), Friday, 11 December 2015 00:16 (five years ago) link

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41oJvLdChAL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

classic tale of life in the trenches

mookieproof, Friday, 11 December 2015 00:33 (five years ago) link

haha oh man i'm enjoying your blog, James

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_hvV0JHPYX_I/SoUAgIJnbgI/AAAAAAAAF9w/3pduBgcpkA8/s400/wizard+oz.jpg

lute bro (brimstead), Friday, 11 December 2015 01:35 (five years ago) link

:) thanks

as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums (James Morrison), Friday, 11 December 2015 22:43 (five years ago) link

Love that blog as well, just lolled at Thomas Hardy series.

Thank you very much, you've got a Lucky Wilbury (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 12 December 2015 00:02 (five years ago) link

They are quite astonishing

as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums (James Morrison), Saturday, 12 December 2015 02:16 (five years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Wow--thanks for the link, some beautiful things there

James Morrison, Saturday, 16 January 2016 06:43 (five years ago) link

Yeah, some cool stuff. Maybe too much to look through...

inside, skeletons are always inside, that's obvious. (dowd), Sunday, 17 January 2016 15:25 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

oh, this saved me having to start a new thread, thanks Jerry

can't decide whether this is good or bad
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/51Meylr9rEL._SY346_.jpg

koogs, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 11:47 (five months ago) link

(penguin edition of The Honourable Schoolboy in case that disappears)

koogs, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 11:54 (five months ago) link

Wish le Carre had called a book 'A Gripping Plot of Devilish Complexity'

Just on a functional level, it's bad not good

J.G Ballard otm (Bananaman Begins), Tuesday, 19 January 2021 12:41 (five months ago) link

it’s terrible

mookieproof, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 14:26 (five months ago) link

it's one of a set and they hark back to graphic designs of some earlier versions, which pleases me.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/series/smiley/the-smiley-collection.html

(one of these things is not like the others... in fact there's a whole nother series with those pale blue covers, identical apart from the book name)

koogs, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 22:23 (five months ago) link

(penguin website run by penguins judging by the speed of it)

koogs, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 22:23 (five months ago) link


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