Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Art of Book Jackets

If you work in the book business, sooner or later you'll fall in love with a book cover as a piece of art and want to frame it. I have a colleague who papered his powder room with Vintage U.K. covers (don't worry, no books were destroyed in the process; reps get extra covers in their selling kits) and a librarian friend of mine frames beautiful and interesting catalogue covers and hangs them in her kitchen and bathroom. With shadowboxes readily available at IKEA and other home furnishing outlets, you can also frame actual books, particularly mass market paperbacks. I'm enthralled with this new book out from Penguin which will give you lots of great ideas. Seven Hundred Penguins celebrates some of the publishers' best book covers of the twentieth century and it's a beautiful, inspiring art book.
I particularly love the green Penguin crime covers of the 1960s, many of them designed by Romek Marber. I have four Dorothy Sayers titles framed in my living room - a white stick figure lies dead against a graphic black and green background of stark geometric design or photomontage. They look terrific in black frames with a white matting. You could have a lot of fun roaming your neighbourhood's used bookstores looking for interesting groupings. Pick your favourite author and collect all their books in a series, or pick just a favourite book, such as Wuthering Heights or Lolita and collect different historical cover treatments. You could collect books that just had interesting type on their covers or used the same font, or all contained a key word in their titles. Or collect by designer. You could hunt for certain images, say books with wine bottles on their covers for a kitchen or dining room, or books with typewriters on them for your study, or books with various body parts for hanging in the bathroom. After all, as Anthony Powell coined, books really DO furnish a room.

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