Trend Watch: Naked Book Covers


Keeping up with the Jobses is a struggle for the publishing industry, this we know. This fall, three new releases coming to a bookstore near you are sounding a battle cry for the antiquarian hardcover book. The twist? Their cover designs are imprinted directly on the board binding the book, meaning no fussy dust jacket and heightened tactile pleasure. (Tactile not currently available in the iPhone apps store.)

So why the sudden confluence of jacketless hardbacks? The New York Observer credits the influence of McSweeney’s Quarterly, Dave Eggers’s brainchild that has produced a dizzying array of arty journals over the years, often sans coat. Eli Horowitz, who in addition to making a killer fish stew is Managing Editor at McSweeney’s, opines on the legacy of books as singular and permanent objects:

“To some extent, it comes down to the question of what purpose the book is designed for: to be sold in a store, or to be a part of a reader’s life. Even well-designed jackets often feel like advertisements, not actual parts of the object.” He added: “Jackets carry all the design, but they feel disposable and often are disposable, the first part of a book to get torn or creased or trampled.”

Hear, hear! And we’re all about judging books on their covers, so see what you think of these:

The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott (Graywolf); No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (Giroux).

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne (Viking); and aha! The missing link: Byrne’s 2006 arty book Arboretum, published by none other than McSweeney’s.

Any others we missed? Tell us in the comments.