One of the sad by-products of our shift to reading novels on Kindle is the relegation of the cover art to an almost incidental aspect of the book.
Like the shift from LP to CD and then downloadable music, the effect is to focus the purchase on the content – no bad thing you might think, if we are talking about great literature – but there is no doubt that a great cover can become an intrinsic part of the whole, enhancing the experience, perhaps even shedding new light on the contents in a way that the reader might not have considered.
I can think of the iconic orange cover with the photo of Jack Nicholson in the role of McMurphy in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for the film tie-in edition. Or the red cover with the big title in black and gold for the copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. I even have a fondness for the particular editions of the James Bond novels I bought in my youth so much so that when I still scour second hand book stores for the edition of The Spy Who Loved Me which would complete my set in that cover design.
Of course, in the case of Trollope’s books – the novels and the non-fiction – the edition produced by The Trollope Society is beyond compare in its understated yet elegant brown livery for the fiction and the deep blue for the non-fiction.
So let’s take a few moments next time we pick up a book to consider the cover and the work that has gone into it with the aim of increasing our enjoyment.