Judging Books by Their Covers

At the Washington Post, this: A colorful history of judging books by their covers

Book jackets are, admittedly, a peculiar art. The most memorable ones usually approach a book indirectly. In fact, Salisbury says that “visual metaphor is often more effective than explicit representation in the distillation of the text into image.” At its best, a classic jacket, joining hand-rendered lettering with traditional portraiture and landscape painting, became an appealing glimpse into a book, welcoming readers inside.

So true!

Of course the covers used to illustrate this article are not the ones I instantly think of, because they’re not SFF covers.

There’s this one, referred to but not shown in the article — I googled it because I was curious about the “panoramas that sadly could never have been fully enjoyed while wrapped around T.D. Atkinson’s book.” This is the artwork in question:

I like it a lot. But here is where my mind instantly goes when I think about wonderful cover art:

And of course, more lately, here:

Naturally I am particularly likely to approve of any article in the Washington Post just now, since their staff writers plainly have excellent taste.

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2 thoughts on “Judging Books by Their Covers”

  1. That Little Fuzzy cover is by Michael Whelan, isn’t it?

    I tend to prefer book covers without a lot of clutter, so the Whelan works for me a lot better than the Architecture book’s cover.

    Most of what they’ve picked out doesn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s better in reality, but my eyes just pass over their images. Or my brain reads them as signaling ‘not for you’. Which is a valuable signal, as long as it’s accurate.

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