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Judging books by (new, outlandish) covers

Posted by Christopher Shea  October 27, 2008 12:48 PM

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Is it possible that sales of highbrow books are hampered by cover designs that don't immediately grab bookstore browsers? The magazine and Web site Bookninja has asked its readers to devise covers for some very serious books that would generate more action at the cash register -- and then vote which refashioning is the best.

It's hard to choose. Might the most creative re-imagining be Pynchon's "Vineland" presented in a way that might reel in wine connoisseurs? Before the oenophiles catch on to the bait-and-switch, they might well be devoted Pynchonites. Or a version of Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" in which plot is played up -- to say the least --over that daunting stream-of consciousness stuff people may have heard about? Someone punched up "On the Road" with a classic space-opera cover, complete with imploding battlecraft. (I feel like I've been seeing that cover in supermarkets for decades.)

Would you pick up a copy of "Rogue Tory: The Life and Legend of John G. Diefenbaker"? You might if it you thought his maverick-tude had something to do with floating above the moon in a '50s'-style space suit.

Your votes -- I don't think the polls have closed yet; the site keeps getting good new entries -- can be sent to editors [at] bookninja.com. Do peruse all the entries; I'd hate to skew the results of this fine contest with my own preferences.



More contest entries after the jump …

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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