One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or so says the popular saying. But when we think of books as objects, as pulsating works of art —the paper, the binding, the endpapers, the typography, and the illustrations— they begin to take on a whole new dimension. Selected by Public Domain Reviewthis collection of book covers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries reminds us that the aesthetic and emotional adventure that detonates a book may well begin on its cover.

The 19th century saw the emergence of the publishing industry. some of its causes were the increasing literacy rates and the development of new technologies for producing serial works. It’s no coincidence, then, that in the same century the novel as a genre was established and widely accepted by mass audiences craving stories to read. Prior to this period, books were handmade which made them expensive and relegated only to those who could afford them.

Into this context arrived the covers of the books. Prior to then, they’d normally have been leather, and even bound as a purchaser wished. But book covers acquired a new purpose. No longer mere protections for the inner pages, they were now a means of transmitting information about the content and, above all, a means of attracting potential readers. The fact that these covers could be made on a printing press, and not by hand through complicated artisanal processes, led to the development of multiple methods for making them, from stamped pages to multicolor lithographs. A new space for artistic expression had been born.

This delightful collection of book covers depicts a myriad of styles and designs. Each one is still a window offering but a glimpse into the promised narrative.

portadas7
portadas8
portadas9
portadas10
portadas1
portadas2
portadas3
portadas4
portadas5
portadas6-1

Images:

One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or so says the popular saying. But when we think of books as objects, as pulsating works of art —the paper, the binding, the endpapers, the typography, and the illustrations— they begin to take on a whole new dimension. Selected by Public Domain Reviewthis collection of book covers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries reminds us that the aesthetic and emotional adventure that detonates a book may well begin on its cover.

The 19th century saw the emergence of the publishing industry. some of its causes were the increasing literacy rates and the development of new technologies for producing serial works. It’s no coincidence, then, that in the same century the novel as a genre was established and widely accepted by mass audiences craving stories to read. Prior to this period, books were handmade which made them expensive and relegated only to those who could afford them.

Into this context arrived the covers of the books. Prior to then, they’d normally have been leather, and even bound as a purchaser wished. But book covers acquired a new purpose. No longer mere protections for the inner pages, they were now a means of transmitting information about the content and, above all, a means of attracting potential readers. The fact that these covers could be made on a printing press, and not by hand through complicated artisanal processes, led to the development of multiple methods for making them, from stamped pages to multicolor lithographs. A new space for artistic expression had been born.

This delightful collection of book covers depicts a myriad of styles and designs. Each one is still a window offering but a glimpse into the promised narrative.

portadas7
portadas8
portadas9
portadas10
portadas1
portadas2
portadas3
portadas4
portadas5
portadas6-1

Images: