Monday, February 11, 2013

Rewards of Random Discovery

Sean Manning writes the blog Talking Covers, which examines how various contemporary book fronts came to look as they do. In an interview with another blog, Imprint, he remarks on how e-books (or “eBooks,” as he writes it) have the potential to do away with one of the greatest rewards of browsing conventional bookshops:
I used to be really anti-eBook. I even edited an anthology in defense of print books. But I've come around--anything that gets people reading more. And I think the new format could change storytelling in a lot of really exciting ways.

But I do worry that if bookstores go extinct, so will the experience of picking up some random book just because of the cover. I’ve discovered so many of my favorite books and authors that way. That’s how I first got into Joan Didion. I was 21 and found a first edition of
Play It As It Lays--hot pink and orange with a big, black snake. I didn’t know who Didion was, but that cover was so cool I had to read it.
You’ll find the full Manning interview here.

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Speaking of Talking Covers, not long ago it recently posted a feature about the memorable line of Vintage Contemporaries novels, published by Random House, beginning in the 1980s. The woman who gave that paperback imprint its handsome, uniform look was Lorraine Louie, who, “though she revolutionized book design, ... never received much fanfare.” If you own (as I do) many of the works in the Vintage Contemporaries line, or at least remember the books, then click here to learn more about their origins.

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