… of course this was a serial.
… one that was, by the middle of the twentieth century, no longer serial, but serialized.
But in a very particular way. Because I know I can’t write about the general history of books cover design. So you see: this book looks back at all the covers we’ve collected over 125 years. So you get histories of the covers that came before.
And you get the beginnings of the process of how covers became so about embellishment, how cover designers became master artists, and who were the first of those master artists.
It’s all here.
So… a bit on design and what kind of influences existed for books and book publishing in the formative years. I’ll highlight two, in particular:
The first book cover designer: Ransom O’Rourke . He came to cover design when he was 32, and, in addition to his work for classics like The Great Gatsby , he was actually on the staff of the London Review, and when he had a new editor come to town, he did the only cover for the Review that looked like it did in the United States, in 1948. And it has its own history. He was born in 1913 and studied at the London School of Printing. He came up through their advertising department, to be the sole editor of the Press, and he had to file The Great Gatsby in June, of 1946. And he tried to have a cover out in January, because that was the standard delivery period. But he missed. And so it was a year and a half, early 1947, of tremendous stress, confusion, labor. Writers and agents were handling it and trying to decide how to publish it. By May, 1949, it was actually published as a paperback paperback, by Hemingway, himself, and Gail Hollander, the publisher. I got it as an early paperback last night. So Ransom O’Rourke’s cover became, from about 1948, a very famous work of design, and I was just grateful to be able to do the full history of it.
… speaking of American covers: it’s a bit vague as to the book collections, but I can’t give a single reference to the first book cover design. But I think it will certainly serve as inspiration, and will mean a lot to everybody else who may not realize how much they knew about the history of book covers, and how that changed and it hasn’t changed for so long.