The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers, and Art at the Edges of Literature


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By Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth

Why do some book covers instantly grab your attention, while others never get a second glance?

Fusing word and image, as well as design thinking and literary criticism, this captivating investigation goes behind the scenes of the cover design process to answer this question and more.

As the outward face of the text, the book cover makes an all-important first impression. The Look of the Book examines art at the edges of literature through notable covers and the stories behind them, galleries of the many different jackets of bestselling books, an overview of book cover trends throughout history, and insights from dozens of literary and design luminaries.

Co-authored by celebrated designer and creative director Peter Mendelsund and scholar David Alworth, this fascinating collaboration, featuring hundreds of covers, challenges our notions of what a book cover can and should be.

Design by Peter Mendelsund and Paul Spella

Published by Ten Speed Press, 2020

Hardcover, 292 pages, full, color 8.7 × 11.3 inches

ISBN: 978-0-39-958102-1

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