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The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri
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The Clothing of Books

by Jhumpa Lahiri

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    We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Speeches by celebrated authors turned into slender books.
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The Clothing of Books was originally presented as a lecture that ends up being a personal essay. So, this is a nice little volume that is a thoughtful look by Jhumpa Lahiri on the topic of book covers.

"I did not own many books as a girl. I would go to the library, where books were often undressed: without jackets or any images."

Also about these library books:

"They had an anonymous quality, secretive. They gave nothing away in advance. To understand them, you had to read them." ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Jun 3, 2018 |
On a trip to the bookstore to finish up some Christmas shopping, I found this book and a book on publishing in a tiny stack on a featured table, clearly abandoned there. Given how much time I'd spent obsessing over starting my own micro press recently, it felt like fate, so I immediately picked them up to buy them.

This book is adapted from a speech that Lahiri gave in Italy at a festival. It mostly ends up very personal -- about how she feels about the covers of her books, but there were some interesting thoughts here. Particularly what it means for a book to be part of an edited series, and how the covers of such a series communicate that. As an micro press is, essentially, a series, I appreciated her thoughts here.

I do think that I should read more on book design, from the designer's or the publisher's perspective. I'm glad I found this one to start me on my way. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 1, 2017 |
Long essay that started life as a speech. Okay only, though I've never not enjoyed anything Lahiri's written on some level. This just seemed like maybe there needed to be a little more to it? But that is often the way when you experience something outside of the medium it was meant for. *shrug* Worth the small amount of time it took to read. ( )
  lycomayflower | Dec 31, 2016 |
The Clothing of Books is the transcript of a speech Jhumpa Lahiri gave in Italy regarding her thoughts on book covers, which she sees as analogous to clothing on people.

Like most authors, Lahiri has no say in the design of covers that go on her printed books. Sometimes she likes the designs her publishers have selected, and sometimes she does not. In a way, Lahiri prefers the dignity of the uniform covers some European publishers give to books in a series as opposed to using a separate design for each edition or translation.

This slender book took me less than half an hour to read. It probably could have been published as a long-form magazine article rather than as a standalone book. ( )
  akblanchard | Dec 8, 2016 |
In this long-form essay, the author discusses her views on all things "book cover". She leads with a personal story about how she wished that her school had uniforms, like her cousins wore in India, because it was more egalitarian. She attended public school in the USA, and was regularly bullied for the unfashionable and ill-fitting clothes her parents bought her. Then, she shares her strong opinions about the relationship between books, book covers, publishers, authors, and readers.

As a non-author who does not work in publishing, I was unaware of how much of the book cover design is made without regard for the author's input or the subject matter of the book. Many cover designers don't seem to read even a blurb about the book before creating the imagery. The author, if allowed any input at all, gets to voice an opinion after the cover designs have already been completed. More often than not, according to Lahiri, the opinion of the author counts for very little and may be disregarded in favor of commercial decisions.

In one section, Lahiri mentions that there is a certain cover of one of her books that she absolutely hates. She doesn't specify which one, but I want to know which one it is! I have a few of her books on my shelves, so it's possible that I own the dreaded cover version. She was explicit in that she generally does not trust book cover designers; the only truly satisfying experience was when the cover was created in collaboration with an artist friend of hers, for her book IN OTHER WORDS.

Throughout the essay, she shares tidbits about the publishing process that readers may not know. For example, if a book doesn't sell well in hardcover the paperback edition will have a different cover. Different countries have different design teams, and will create strikingly different covers for the same book, because of the differing norms and societal expectations.

It was fascinating to realize that the humble book cover is really living at the confluence of art, marketing, psychology, sales, and readability. While this essay only touches on book covers, it certainly gives readers a glance at an often-hidden world, and may cause you to look more critically at the books on your shelves. ( )
  BooksForYears | Nov 29, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jhumpa Lahiriprimary authorall editionscalculated
Smits, ManonTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vourvoulias-Bush, AlbertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525432752, Paperback)

How do you clothe a book?
In this deeply personal reflection, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri explores the art of the book jacket from the perspectives of both reader and writer. Probing the complex relationships between text and image, author and designer, and art and commerce, Lahiri delves into the role of the uniform; explains what book jackets and design have come to mean to her; and how, sometimes, “the covers become a part of me.”

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 04 Oct 2016 07:05:09 -0400)

How do you clothe a book? In this deeply personal reflection, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri explores the art of the book jacket from the perspectives of both reader and writer. Probing the complex relationships between text and image, author and designer, and art and commerce, Lahiri delves into the role of the uniform; explains what book jackets and design have come to mean to her; and how, sometimes, "the covers become a part of me.??.… (more)

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