The Book Cover – Peter Mendelsund, David J. Alworth


Hmmm… mixy thoughts on this.

So this is a book all about book covers. And initially I was SUPER excited for it.

I mean… who doesn’t judge a book by its cover?

I was so curious to learn about the history and trends that you see in book covers – and why some are considered works of art while others are just “ehhh”. I couldn’t wait to see motifs and trace them through the years….

But this book is more…hmm…less than I hoped.

I wanted to be dazzled but instead it felt like my spark was being smothered.

The academic nature and pedantic language of the book really…well…sucked the fun out of a topic that I was looking forward too. It felt like I was attending a lecture.

It also probably didn’t help that the author only focuses on medium-old books (if that makes sense).

Like there were a lot of books from the 19th-20th century but next to nothing from before or after…which kind of killed my excitement for learning about modern trends or ancient ones.

I would’ve LOVED to have a few chapters about when book covers became a “thing” and how people first started decorating them (like physically how and what they did to do it) – it’s such a cool thing!

And a few chapters on the books of today – where we trace the earlier influences and how they are seen on books from today.

Also, this might be a bit more minor but a lot of the books featured were relatively unknown to me – and considering I read ~300+ books a year, I was kinda surprised that I only recognized like 10-20% of the books.

I mean, it was kinda neat to learn about the books I’ve never heard of but at the same time, I wish that a few more common books were chosen.

ALSO – and it may just be me…but I was disappointed by the lack of “pretty covers” (which, yes…sounds shallow but at the same time…you know you like pretty covers).

I mean, I don’t have the research to back this up BUT I would argue major reason covers are designed are so people are going to want to buy the book.

There are so many covers out there that are just stunning – ones that instantly tell me that YES YOU NEED THIS ON YOUR SHELF.

Honestly, what would you rather have on your shelf? a weird abstract cover in mud-brown and baby-food-green or the same book in royal blue, bonded leather, gilt pages and embossed cover?)

I was really pumped to learn more about those ones and how beauty factors into the design….but that wasn’t really addressed.

Ah well. If you are in college and need a textbook about covers – this one will work for you.

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