A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY BOOK COVERS

Posted by gowedlock on March 8th, 2017

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY BOOK COVERS

In the era of advanced modern techniques being developed every single day, one can almost forget to look back in time and review the history of various simple yet very helpful things. Why? May be because the word “history” instantly brings about a yawn and is associated with boredom. However, we do not realize that not all histories are boring. In fact, looking back in time and reviewing the past, we can find stuff that is useful even in the world of digital art today. Such is the history of book cover design.

BEFORE THE PRINTING PRESS..

Books have been a part of this world for a very, very long time. Earlier book cover designs were handmade and beautiful. Unlike the professional book cover designs made today, those took a lot of hard work and a very special set of skills to be crafted. The material mainly used to make those book covers and book cover designs were leather and timber. This is the reason why we still see all those heavy, historical books in the museums, completely intact! The books that were of religious importance, had book cover designs made of precious metals like gold and silver, gems and ivory which are a dlight to look at.

FROM HAND-CRAFTED TO PRINTED..

Since the beginning of the era of printing press in 15th century, it has done nothing but flourish. By the start of 18th century, printing of books and professional book cover designs were in full swing. The winds soon turned from those heavily embellished book cover designs and started flowing towards inexpensive and lightweight paper and cloth book covers which were mechanically bound. However, those book covers were not as durable as those in the past. So, the Georgians invented the dust jacket. It was an easy way to protect the fragile paper and cloth made book covers during their journey from one place to another. It was not that pretty to look at but it got the job done.

THE BEGINNING OF COVER ART..

As time went by and by the start of 19th century, the publishers realized that making a book look “pretty” DOES count. The marketing game around the world started to get stronger and it was a necessity to make book cover designs attractive in order to improve sales.

In 1980s, the European publishers took things in their hands and changed the dust jackets to fancy pieces of art that screamed “buy me!”. It will be safe to say that this could be the foundation of fantasy book cover design, ebook cover design, professional book cover design and digital art that we see today. Then came The Yellow Book, designed by Englishman Aubrey Beardsley. The illustrated book cover designs that are the building blocks of today’s digital art. The inspiration of most modern ebook cover designs nowadays probably came from there.

This new invention, like many others in that time period, faced negativity and repulsiveness from the government and public alike. However, soon it dawned on them that these professional book cover designs were doing more good than harm. Since then the advancements in book cover designs has been tremendous in various genres most prominently in fantasy book cover designs and ebook cover designs.

In this age we might assume that this cannot get any better than this but who knows where time will take us and what other advancements are yet to be made in digital art. Let’s wait and find out.

gowedlock

About the Author

gowedlock
Joined: February 14th, 2017
Articles Posted: 3

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