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Posts Tagged ‘Book Covers

“So may the outward shows be least themselves”*…

 

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Further our our recent look at movie posters that move, Henning Lederer: “How would these great book covers from the past look like when set in motion? Here we go…”

Covers

* Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

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As we celebrate cerebration, we might recall that it was on this date in 1851 that Harper & Brothers published Herman Melville‘s novel, Moby Dick; it had appeared in the U.K. about a month earlier as The Whale. Based on Melville’s experience aboard a whaler and dedicated to Melville’s friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, the book received mixed reviews and sold poorly. It is now, of course, considered a classic– the peak of the American Renaissance.

The (altogether-unanimated) title page of first American edition

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Written by LW

November 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Judging books by their covers is seriously underrated”*…

 

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How to Poo on a Date has won the 36th annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.

The book, by Mats & Enzo, published by Prion Press, topped a public vote to find the oddest title, in one of the closest contests in prize history. In the end, How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers’ Guide to Toilet Etiquette, took home the title with 30% of the vote, beating into second place Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown (Pan South Africa) andThe Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews (ECW Press), which both captured 23% of voters.

The rest of the shortlist [pictured above] was made up of early frontrunner Working Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City by Chris Balsiger ands Erin Canning (One Peace Books), with 14%; Pie-ography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham (Quarry) with 6%; and How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God by Ian Punnett (Harmony Books), with 4% of the votes…

Previous titles from Mats & Enzo, How to Poo on HolidayHow to Poo at Work and How to Bonk at Work, were all previously nominated for the prize. Tom Tivnan, features and  insight editor at The Bookseller, and Diagram Prize administrator, said: “The two were in danger of becoming perpetual Diagram bridesmaids, like Beryl Bainbridge and the Booker.”

He added: “In recent years, Diagram Prize voters have showed their catholic tastes by selecting rarefied food science titles (The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais, 2008), zoological studies (Bombproof Your Horse, 2004), and highbrow experimental literature (The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, 2003). Yet after Mats and Enzo’s win this year, with The Origin of Feces on the shortlist, and Saiyuud Diwong’s Cooking with Poo taking the crown in 2011, an all too-clear trend emerges. Diagram devotees have spoken, and spoken in no uncertain terms: poo wins prizes.”

No prize other than the honour of the win is traditionally given to the winner of the Diagram, which was founded as a way of relieving boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Diagram Group co-founders Trevor Boundford and Bruce Robertson in 1978.

Readers can read the full release at The Bookseller, and can follow (Roughy) Daily’s coverage of earlier year’s competitions here and here.

* Amy Smith, All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane

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As we load up our Kindles, we might send fabulous birthday greetings to Hans Christian Andersen; he was born on this date in 1805.  A prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his (often curiously-titled) fairy tales.  Those tales– which include “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”– have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.

In Andersen’s honor this date– his birthday– is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.

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“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book…”*

 

From toekneesan, a Flickr set of nearly 500 photos of children’s book covers

They span from the very beginning of the Twentieth Century, with the majority being mid-century, with a handful from the Eighties, and maybe two from the Nineties…

Browse at “Old Book Covers.”

*Philip Pullman

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As we turn back the pages, we might spare a thought for Jacques Derrida; he died on this date in 2004.  A major figure in post-structuralism and postmodern philosophy, Derrida is best remembered for developing the form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction.  His thinking was hugely impactful across many fields, especially in the humanities and social sciences:   anthropology, sociology, semiotics, jurisprudence, and literary theory.   Indeed, what is probably Derrida’s most-quoted assertion– “there is nothing outside the text” (il n’y a pas de hors-texte)– became the rallying cry of his friend Paul de Man, who led a relatively short-lived, but bloody “anti-theoretical” revolution in literary critical studies in the late Twentieth Century.

 

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Written by LW

October 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts”*…

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Alfred A. Knopf (1953)

Book jackets are supposed to do heavy sales duty:  evocative art, enticing text– it’s all supposed to instill an irresistible urge to “buy me, read me.”  Facsimile Dust Jackets is a colossal collection of covers, mostly from the 1920s-1950s, that one can buy to wrap around one’s own old books, frame as the works of art that they are… or simply browse for the pleasure of peaking through a colorful window back in time.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, The Hogarth Press (1925)

Ian Flemming, Casino Royale, Jonathan Cape (1964 reprint based on ariginal)

Read all about it here, and browse the collection– currently over 9,300 covers– here.

* Charles Dickens

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As we dust our dust jackets, we might send sentimental birthday greetings to James Hilton; he was born on this date in 1900.  While Hilton capped his career as a successful screenwriter (Mrs. Miniver, Foreign Correspondent, Camille, and many others), he is probably best remembered as a novelist– especially as the author of Lost Horizon (thus, the creator of Shangri-La) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

James Hilton, Lost Horizon, The Macmillan Company (1933)

 

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Written by LW

September 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

The Sincerest Form of Flattery…

Sarah Johnson, a reference librarian at Eastern Illinois University, and keeper of Reading the Past, began to notice some striking similarities in the cover art of books she was reviewing.  She began to collect examples, and viola– Reusable Cover Art, from whence, the example above.

Click through for many other striking (and often, amusingly ironic) resemblances– and all the way to the bottom of the gallery for a nifty set of links to even more.

(Thanks to reader NM)

As we contemplate Shepard Fairey’s predicament, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884 that the first edition of The Oxford English Dictionary was published.   Edited by James Murray (“The Professor” in Simon Winchester’s wonderful The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary), it was originally a project of the Philological Society of London, devoted to cataloging the English words that had evaded inclusion in then-current dictionaries.  The first edition had the benefit of 27 years of work, by dozens of contributors; it sold 4,000 copies.

James Murray in the Scriptorium, the home of the OED,
on Banbury Road in Oxford (source)

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