Judging #bookstagram by our covers
August 30, 2018 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Book covers are art, and the designs are influenced by not only the story's content but also the trending styles of our days. Is that influence today pushed by social media? "For a time, it seemed that eBooks and kindles would displace their physical counterparts, but this didn’t quite come to pass... Part of this has been in direct response to eBooks; a tactic to boost the sales of physical books is to remake them as desirable objects, and a way to make objects desirable is, of course, to make them aesthetically appealing. But social media – specifically Instagram, which promotes the coveting of beautiful covers on hashtags such as #bookstagram – is putting a new emphasis on cover aesthetics. We no longer need to go home with someone in order to see their bookcase." -Holly Connolly, for The Guardian.

See also: Insta Novels, the New York Public Library's offering of public domain ebooks with captivating covers.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
my all time favorite book covers are the black&white abstract covers designed by Helen Yentus for books by Camus, including:

The Stranger

The Myth of Sisyphus

They are visually striking and also thematically appropriate!
posted by vogon_poet at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2018

Essays about a fundamentally visual thing with basically no relevant visuals shown remind me of reading music or food reviews. Completely unsatisfying and often baffling. The links in the text lead to other articles, which also have astonishingly few images of what the fuck they're about. Doesn't help that the ones in the header image are quite ugly anyway.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:59 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

On a related note, I particularly enjoyed this (slightly NSFW) Adam Cadre essay about book covers.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

And then there's how you present the content of the book.

I'm a sucker for good-to-amazing typography, and doubly so for limited edition or wholly unique add-ins, like In The Belly of St. Paul by Karl Hyde, which reads (and is printed!) like Underworld lyrics sound, but it's composed of overheard sound bites from the streets of London, and came with an individual photo, which you could register to get the photo to show up online.

While some of this can be replicated in an eBook, the physicality of it all is part of it's wonder and charm.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:19 AM on August 30, 2018

Oddly, this post appears as I was just debating with myself whether or not I want to use my empty Instagram account to post images of, well, some of my books.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:54 AM on August 30, 2018

The tiny little used bookstore around the corner from my house posts pictures of books that they get in on Instagram with the #bookstagram tag, lets you reserve them in the comments and has a shelf in the shop labeled something like "As seen on Instagram". It seems to work for her and anything that can help an indie bookstore survive in 2018 seems like a good thing to me.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

My girlfriend has a decent enough book collection and I’ve wanted to take photos of all of them since she has some rare gems in there.
posted by gucci mane at 12:32 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't care if it is being driven by social media, good art, good graphic design, good typography are small pleasures in life and I'm always happy when something I handle nearly every day (like book!) brings me a little jolt of enjoyment at its beauty.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:58 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

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