Culture

The persuasive art of the dust jacket

Book covers have long been a source of artistic quality and, in the age of Kindle, are reintroducing more and more of us to the pleasures of traditional reading
Click here to view of gallery of of images from The Illustrated Dust Jacket 1920-1970

When the essayist and caricaturist Sir Max Beerbohm learned in 1949 that there was to be an exhibition of dust jacket designs at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, he drolly observed that he wouldn’t be attending, as he only needed to call in at any bookshop to witness the “internecine warfare between the innumerable latest volumes, almost all of them violently vying with one another for one’s attention, fiercely striving to outdo the rest in crudity of design and of colour.” He went on to liken the experience to visiting the parrot house in the Zoological Gardens, “save that there one can at least stop one’s ears with one’s fingers”.

The right cover is like a beautiful coat, elegant and warm, wrapping my words as they travel through the world

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