Steven Brower's book is a refreshing change from the usual historical look back at paperback cover art. Many of them tend to concentrate on bottom of the market sex titles that provide an opportunity to fill out the pages with mildly titillating cover art. Despite a rather over-the-top title, which suggests that Brower only looks at instantly forgettable paperbacks, I found his book a thorough and fascinating coverage of paperback cover art.
The thirteen genre chapters almost cover the complete market with a short intro to each though some only have a few covers. 'Lavender liaisons' about the gay women titles only has two; 'Changing world' on social problems has six. Nicely there is a chapter on humor titles, not normally included in books on cover art, with six covers but oddly, considering how comprehensive the book's coverage is there is nothing on cartoon paperbacks, neither individual artists or reprints of cartoons from consumer weeklies or monthlies.
If you are interested in pop culture from the past the book is certainly worth getting but I was slightly disappointed with the production, so four stars. The first thing I noticed was that the paper, a good matt art stock, was a bit too thick for the size of the book and its pages, they made it a bit unwieldy to handle. The other problem was the layout. Frequently spreads had two covers, page size that butted together into the middle, not the best way to show off cover art, they looked too crammed in. If the book had been slightly wider (square would have been super) it would have made all the art look that much better
I have other books on cover art, maybe not so comprehensive but certainly better looking: Front Cover: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design; PENGUIN BY DESIGN: A COVER STORY 1935-2005; Jackets Required for instance, check out my Listmania on book cover art for more about paperbacks. Despite the crammed-in look with a lot of the pages in Brower's book it is an excellent look back at mass-market cover art.
Too many covers were spoilt because they butted together like this and ran off the edge of the page.
Right: each chapter starts with an underwhelming title and a short intro. the cover on the left runs off the page and this means some of the type is trimmed (A Dell Murder Mystery).
Literature gets the mass-market appeal.
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