Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Covers

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” –American proverb

This proverb was probably easy to follow prior to the 1900’s. In the 1820’s, book jackets were originally designed to protect cloth bound covers and were meant to be discarded. For the first couple of decades of the 20th century, book covers were frequently decorated with stamped floral or scroll designs. It was not until the 1920s that the modern book jacket became a staple of the publishing world. For more history on book jackets, plus photos of covers from 1920 through 1950’s visit Pictorial Covers:An Exhibition of American Book Jackets, 1920-1950.

Recently I ran across the blog of Henry Sene Yee who designs book covers. As today is the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, I thought it might be an appropriate time to share the blog on how he came up with an suitable cover for the book, simply titled Columbine.

Although written in 2007, there is another interesting article at on how Chip Kidd, art director at Alfred A. Knopf, designed covers for Martin Amis, Cormac McCarthy and John Updike. There’s more on Chip Kidd’s cover art at

Vanity Fair lists what they rank as the top 25 book covers.

A list of favorite covers of 2008 can be found at Book Design Review.

Have you ever bought a book based on the cover alone? Do you have a favorite book cover of all time?

Thanks for dropping by.

Tags: book covers, Columbine, Vanity Fair, Knopf,


Anonymous said...

Just like don't buy a wine because the bottle looks nice, I've never bought a book just for its cover. But the cover CAN attract my attention enough to pick it up and read the blurbs, and then maybe I'll buy it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yes, I have purchased a book because of its cover - I confess!

I love the covers for sci-fi books. Michael Whelan has created some of the most gorgeous covers. It was his artwork on the cover of Anne McCaffrey's "The White Dragon" that first drew me to that book - and inspired me to become an author!

L. Diane Wolfe

conarnold said...

Book covers definitely attract my attention, but it's usually the author or the blurb on the back that entices me to buy.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Covers provide a great "eye catcher" - hopefully back blurb and author sell the book. It works hand in hand. Nice post- cheers!

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks for those links. I zipped over. I can't say I agree with their choices, but I've also never sat down and tried to create my own list either. I can't say I've ever bought a book because of its cover, but have rejected a book or two because of their covers.


Morgan Mandel said...

I'm very tempted often by covers, but I force myself to see what the book is about and read the first page before taking the plunge. If there's any doubt and I like the cover, it's a sale.

Morgan Mandel

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world