We have all used the idiom in our time but when it comes to books it’s a phrase more than true.
That’s because some of the most enchanting books can appear to be dull and neglected on the outside despite their wonderful literature on the inside.
There are so many classics out there that have changed for the contemporary reader. But why should it matter? It wasn’t until the late 19th century that interesting covers became popular – before that the covers of books were usually just used as dust wrappers!
According to historians, Charles Dickens used green wrappers illustrated with characters and images from the relevant novels he wrote. Yet one of the earliest examples in Britain of a hardback book with a detachable decorative cover was the 1902 edition of Kipling’s magical read, Just So Stories.
Another classic to mention would be one of the most famous books of all time, The Hobbit. J.R.R Tolkien drew his own amateur cover for The Hobbit accompanied by runic lettering – his designs are still used on the hardback editions, today. Fantastically, the author’s paperbacks have been redesigned by publishers over the years, in a bid to entice new audiences, especially amongst pupils in schools.
Digital covers don’t hold as much power over readers in the digital world.
These amazing, colourful and enchanting covers sometimes don’t even show up on certain devices – or they aren’t big enough to grab your attention. When readers are turning on their electronic devices to download an interesting read, it shows us that when the covers aren’t there, they have to just go with their instinct. Unbelievably this somehow relates back to the olden days, a time when it was not so easy for books to be judged by their covers!
1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin
2. Dubliners – James Joyce
3. The Time Machine – HG Wells
4. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
5. Moby Dick – Herman Melville