They may say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but some book covers have become iconic and inseparable from the words they adorn. Two of the most instantly recognizable book designs were for the runaway bestsellers “The Godfather” and “Jaws” - and in both cases the imagery was carried over into the movie versions’ marketing.
"The Great Gatsby"
In the late 19th century publishers began incorporating dust jackets. To collectors the original covers can greatly increase a book’s value. A first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” sellable at about $10,000, could fetch eight times that amount if it were still wrapped in the original decorative paper.
"A Clockwork Orange"
A graphically chilling design for Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange.”
“The Catcher in the Rye"
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.
Credit: Back Bay
Both innocent and not-so-innocent, the cover of “Lolita” suggests the controversy at the heart of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic erotic reverie.
"Running With Scissors"
A whimsical photograph illustrates the dark hazards of “Running With Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs.
No bones about it: A simple yet powerful, iconic cover for Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.”
“Cleopatra: A Life”
An inscrutable image about the reputedly beautiful “Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff.
“Procession of the Dead”
“Procession of the Dead” by Darren Shan
Credit: Grand Central
"Things I’ve Learned"
A clever visual pun depicts the theme of the collection “Things I’ve Learned From Women Who Dumped Me.”
Credit: Grand Central
“November 22, 1963.”
A sorrowful depiction of Jackie Kennedy, the fateful date framing her and her children, on the cover of Adam Braver’s novel, “November 22, 1963.”
Credit: Tin House Books
The U.K. edition of Mark Haddon’s mystery novel, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
“Full Dark, No Stars”
Striking imagery from the cover of Stephen King’s “Full Dark, No Stars.”
Credit: Simon & Schuster
The “Millennium” Trilogy by Stieg Larsson - colorful, bright, brash and somewhat dangerous, like Larsson’s heroine.
“The Secret Works of T.S. Spivet”
At the 2010 New York Book Show, held by the Bookbinders Guild of New York, the design of the jacket for “The Secret Works of T.S. Spivet” by Reif Larsen” was awarded First Place for Hardcover Nonfiction.
“Poorly Made in China”
Business books needn’t be dry: Paul Midler’s “Poorly Made in China” is perfectly evoked in this humorous cover.
A tempting cover for Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight.”
Credit: Little, Brown
International editions of “Twilight” show the great differences taken in designing book jackets from one country to the next. Clockwise from upper left: Czech Republic, Denmark, South Korea, Germany, Thailand, Russia, Japan and Indonesia.
“Sex, Murder and the Unwritten Law”
The stain of oil is a metaphor for “Sex, Murder and the Unwritten Law” by Bill Neal.
Credit: Texas Tech University Press
“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”
Following in the bloody footprints of “Sense and Sensibility and Vampires” is “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith. Remember, ol’ Abe was pretty good with an axe.