Wednesday 29 June 2011


I got the latest Taschen catalogue last night, full of their usual mix of high art and ridiculously exensive porn. I assume there's someone out there who thinks $69.95 is a reasonable sum to spend on a book of photos of Kate Moss, but I hope my life never intersects with theirs. However, one book in there that I do need to own is Noel Daniel's upcoming fancy-pants edition of The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

What Daniel has done is comb through 150 years of different Grimm editions and translations from all over the wrld, and chosen the best illustrations for the best stories, presenting them all together in one big book. It's a great idea which, like many ideas, I'm amazed nobody had before*.

Some innards:

This is also as good a time as any to post one of my other favourite covers, a sexy and ornate interpretation by Vania (or Ivan) Zouravliov for Vintage Classics.

* My own great ideas are never so great. The other night, waking up at 2am, I had what seemed at the time a bolt of inspiration: start a Tumblr called 'Books' Ends: The Last Word in Great Books', and each day I would post the last word from a great book, somehow revealing the natures of said books and their authors through their well-chosen final words. I have not yet done this, because the world doesn't really need another pointless Tumblr blog, but I'm still tempted.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Covers That Aren't But Ought To Be 1

Sometimes I come across, or have brought to my attention, speculative cover designs that artists and designers have done for themselves. They're not published, and there are no plans for them to be, but they're easily good enough to be used. In an attempt to show these covers off, and maybe get some publishers looking at new work that would make their books look fantastic, here's the first in an irregular series of posts showcasing Covers That Aren't But Ought To Be.

The following are all the work of Andrew Barron. His portfolio is here. The Penguin branding is just to show what the final books might look like--unfortunately, these editions are not available in the real world, as I found to my disappointment after peering at tiny ISBNs and searching online catalogues. Click all for bigger versions.

The 'American Giants':

Garcia Marquez:

The Iliad, cover design and internal artwork:



And finally, a book that does exist, but in an incredibly limited edition, The Job, a book Barron created and designed that was inspired by Burroughs's cut-up novels.

Marvellous stuff, and I really, really want that Iliad to exist, so that I can have a copy.

Thursday 23 June 2011


If you're reading this, I may have (temporarily at least) tamed Firefox and its woes. So let's look at some pretty books I've stumbled across. They're from Penguin's Indian arm, and that company has done their damnedest to hide them on their website. They're named the Evergreens, and they're designed as the Subcontinental answer to the various Great Ideas/Journeys/Food series Penguin UK has produced over the last few years. Like the Great ideas, the cover designs have been limited to a palette of black and orange.

I'm going to try to get hold of some of these--before postage, they work out to about $2 Australian each. However, even in this day and age, though, ordering books from India is not the easiest thing. It can have its rewards: one bookshop sent my parcel of books wrapped in muslin and sealed with wax, which had a pleasantly vibe of antiquity to it that you don't normally get when you order stuff online.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

French Sophistication

Sorry for the lack of posts: a virus scan wrecked my Windows installation, and in fixing that my browser seems to have gone haywire, meaning any attempts to upload an image to this blog make the whole thing crash--a bit of a problem for a blog based on pictures. Describing the book covers without images isn't quite the same.

To show that I'm not dead, I'm surreptitiously posting this brief thing from my workplace. Please enjoy this tasteful French book cover from 1974 (taken from here, a blog full of this sort of thing).

Click for bigger--if you dare! More Opta here, though sadly none quite so tacky as this.

Wednesday 15 June 2011


Another wonderfully Quixotic literary outfit is Open Letter Books, based at the University of Rochester. They publish only translations, bringing some of the most wonderful books you've never heard of into the English language. I've only read a few of their offerings so far, but they have all been excellent. And the covers! Designed by several talented artists (Milan Bozic (who also did these beauties) and editor E. J. Van Lanen among them), they have those bold areas of colour and simple but not straightforward cover designs that bring to mind other wonderful publishers of the exotic like Dalkey and New Directions. Many of them have a timeless feel--they could have been produced at any point in the last 70 years.