Friday, April 19, 2013

Books: Covers

What you see above is my current book collection, minus a few novels that are out on perpetual loan.  If one were to explore, they would find they're looking through a pretty wide selection, but there's one thing they're guaranteed to not find.  An eBook reader. 

I'm not one of those people that despises Kindle books, I just prefer the real thing.  Sure the overall cost is more, you can't carry your collection with you like an e-reader... though I've never had a need to carry around over 260 books either.  Yes, I'm paying more. Much more. But there's something I'm paying for that you can't get with an iPad, the main reason why I'm an advocate for physical books: Pride of Ownership.

A book being a tangible object is a benefit in and of itself. We love displaying them, looking at them, holding them... going to a bookstore and setting our handful of selections in front of the clerk simply feels good.  Seeing that nearly-iconic Amazon box at your doorstep fills you up with a little excitement, doesn't it?  There's one more benefit to physical books: their covers.

You want handheld art? Then look no further than a bookshelf. Sure, many best-selling thrillers have the cliched title and author set in raised, foil block lettering with an ominous stock photo in the background.  They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  Well, I do when it comes to these.  Not once have I seen one of those covers then flipped it over to read the back summary.  Those covers are to books as barbed wire tattoos are to people.

The cure to cancer could be in there, and I'd never know.

But many books have covers so brilliant and pleasing to the eye, you often pause between pages to look at it... again and again.  Most of mine are like that, and there are a few that I love especially. Below are a few of them, my favorites.  The story or author have no relevance, only the art.

"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
Flames, a sketch of someone screaming, it's just plain cool.

"Born Standing Up" by Steve Martin
The cover is just like his writing - cool and refined with a hint of humor in the right spot.

"Ecstasy" by Irvine Welsh
I like the fact that Welsh posed for this picture himself, along with the back cover. It also gives you a hint of oddity to prepare you for the content.

"Fire the Bastards!" by Jack Green
William Gaddis, the actual author, is on the cover and the look of vague frustration on his face sets the tone to the book.

"Gonzo" by Hunter S. Thompson
This is one hell of a coffee table book, and the cover grabs your attention from across the room.

"Machine Man" by Max Barry
Simple, clean, and explains the premise of the book without much effort.  Minimalism at its best.

"Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey" by Chuck Palahniuk
The omission of both the title and the author's name, leaving an "R" from beneath the dust jacket, makes it simple. Even with the chaotic art.  Oh, and there's one more thing I like about this book...

It's a signed first edition. Boom.

"The Gun Seller" by Hugh Laurie
On Amazon
Yep, House wrote a book - and it's pretty good too.  The cover has kind of a pulpy Roy Lichtenstein pop art feel to it.

"The Tao of Travel" by Paul Theroux
This one is by far the most different.  Leather-bound, gold foil lettering... it gives the feeling of significance, a bible for travel writers (which it kind of is).

"When You Are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris
A van Gogh painting of a skeleton smoking.  What's not to like?

Now, there's another point to that last selection.  The cover art was designed by a man named Chip Kidd, someone who is extremely well-known for book covers. If I ever get a book published, that's how I know I've made it: if the cover was designed by Chip Kidd.

But for now, I'll settle for banners that I make on Microsoft Word.

Feel free to check out my other sites:
Rusted Bolt