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By Its Cover: Modern American Book Cover Design

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  73 ratings  ·  6 reviews
We all know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but the truth is that we do just that nearly every time we walk into a bookstore or pull a book off a tightly packed shelf. It's really not something we should be ashamed about, for it reinforces something we sincerely believe: design matters. At its best, book cover design is an art that transcends the publish ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 11th 2005 by Princeton Architectural Press
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I was hoping for theoretical stuff: "here's what makes a good book cover design." Instead, it's more art history/appreciation: "here are some good book cover designs! And some bad ones!" There is arty blah-blah about why they're good or bad, but so far, it's not generalizing for me, other than that the bad ones are bland and unoriginal.

So far, I've learned that I pretty much hate modernism, except Alvin Lustig. I like nearly all of his covers. Hoping to enjoy the later chapters more.

On the othe
I had the definite sense that this is a pretty write up of someone's PHD. And it is pretty, lavishing whole pages onto single covers, plenty of lead and contemporary URL inspired bold-blue emphasis in the text. It is a useful and detailed overview of the subject. It had a refreshing look at postmodernism, but broke no new ground, despite casting away the shadows of history from this particular area.
A very well edited book on what is dear to me. Book covers. And here we have a lot of samples of great covers from the past - all American publications.

I have a collection of books that deals with book covers - and I think my favorite are the French, Japanese, and Dutch. The Americans were good as well. But during the 70's it got really boring for some reason.
Great reference material, but suffers under the texts selfish blather. I'd recommend anyone flip through it, but never suggest they try to actually read it.

Some really beautiful examples though, particularly through the 50s and 60s.
I've been reading a few books recently on Book Cover Design for my Adv. Type class. It's dry but the reference material is helpful. Not a lot to read but a lot to look at!
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