NABOKV-L post 0018948, Fri, 11 Dec 2009 19:50:08 -0500

21 of Vlad imir Nabok ov’s title s ...

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009, 7:35 am

The Reading Life: Judging Books by Their Covers

What are the best book covers of 2009?

Over at The Book Design Review, Joseph Sullivan’s always interesting blog, they’re starting to count down the year’s best. He’ll publish his own favorites soon. But for now, Mr. Sullivan has asked the staffs of three independent bookstores for their picks. Here are selections from WORD, a Brooklyn bookstore:

From The Book Design Review Selections from Book Design Review’s “Favorite Book Covers of 2009.” From left: “Wuthering Heights,” designed by Ruben Toledo; “The Book of Fathers,” designed by John Gall, collage by Nicole Natri; “The End of Food,” designed by Mark Robinson; and “The Most Beautiful Book in the World,” designed by Emanuele Ragnisco.

Among the most eye-catching volumes I’ve seen in 2009 are the paperback reissues of 21 of Vladimir Nabokov’s titles by Vintage Books. You can see a few of them here.

From Print magazine Selections from Vintage Book’s new series of Nabokov covers. From left, “Speak, Memory,” designed by Michael Bierut; “Despair,” designed by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin; “King, Queen, Knave,” designed by Peter Mendelsund; and “The Enchanter,” designed by Megan Wilson and Duncan Hannah.

On Print magazine’s blog, Peter Terzian explains how these covers came into being. Vintage’s art director, John Gall, asked a group of designers to create new covers, but there was a catch. Mr. Terzian writes:

Gall gave the designers one stipulation: each cover would be a photograph of a specimen box, a nod to Nabokov’s passion for butterfly collecting. Within the framework of the box, and using layers of paper and insect pins, the designers were free to create more or less what they wished.

The results are striking. One might say about these covers what Humbert Humbert said in “Lolita”: “It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.”

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