Pretty Soon, You Might Not Even Be Able to Judge a Book by Its Cover

Soon, in the fast-approaching dystopian future when the Fifty Shades saga is taught unironically at universities and the only ice cream flavor is strawberry, cover art for book jackets will be a lost skill, like long division or using a landline. That's a shame, considering artists like Chip Kidd, the art director at Alfred A. Knopf, have rendered so many of our favorite books pick-upable (he was responsible for the t-rex skeleton that graced the book jacket of Jurassic Park and later instilled a series of nightmares in everyone who was under the age of twelve when Spielberg's movie came out).

Kidd worries that the growing popularity of e-books will soon obviate the need for cover art, which would be a bad thing, both for people like Kidd (duh), but also normies like you and me who wouldn't know a good book from a real shitpile unless there was something pretty glossing its cover. The digital publishing world, warns Kidd, risks sapping reading of a "tradition, a sensual experience, the comfort of thingy-ness, [and] a little bit of humanity." He explains that people usually don't buy books online because of cover art, rather, "They'll buy a book on the Web because they've read a review or it's word of mouth or some combination of the two."

So are we finally entering the age when the aphorism "don't judge a book by its cover" becomes one of those idioms that doesn't make sense anymore because there are no more book covers? Not quite, says Kidd, who thinks that there will always be a market for hardcover books, which, he admits, have always sort of been "luxury items," you know, just like parchment scrolls. Oh, wait...

In The E-Book World, Are Covers A Dying Art? [NPR]