Unusual Book Covers and Presentations

I have a copy of Haruki Murakami’s 1987 work Norwegian Wood, translated into English by Jay Rubin and published in the UK by Harvill Press in 2000.

This edition of the book remains faithful to the presentation of the Japanese original. It comes in two volumes, each measuring about 6" x 4".The first book has a red cover and the second has a green cover. (Each volume is exactly 247 pages in length and the first ends in mid-chapter). The two books are laid side by side in a stiff cardboard box like so, about halfway down the page. The box itself is about the size of an average book.

Any more non-standard book covers?

I have that book in Learn-English translation by a Japanese publisher (got it at the Japanese bookstore in midtown NYC) - same layout. Murakami is a favorite of mine.

Are we talking trade editions or limited editions? Cause limited editions can go nuts in terms of binding, packaging and the ephemera they include with the edition…

I’ll run with trade/retail, excluding limited editions for the very reason you give.

I’m tempted to derail this already by talking about Murakami. I have an endless fascination for the guy.

Maybe another time.

Yep - me, too. I started on A Wild Sheep Chase and then read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and was blown away. I chased everything of his down and consumed it rabidly. One of my top writers working today.

Anyway, back to the OP. Stuff that comes to mind:

  • dust jackets with cut-outs - sometimes they work and their peek-a-boo appeal works to grab attention, but sometimes they don’t work. I can’t find a photo but Carson McCullers (the Heart is a Lonely Hunter) had a book called Reflections in a Golden Eye (made into a Brando movie, IIRC) that had a big cut-out in the dj that was filled in with cellophane. Lots of problems - the cello yellowed, or collapsed inside the cut-out pulling the paper out of shape. Finding a decent-condition first edition is a hassle.

  • Sex by Madonna - yeah, by definition it was kind of a limited edition, but that malfunction-prone metal binding was a good idea poorly executed

  • Ulysses - 1st U.S. Edition - see picture here- this was held up as a big innovation in design at the time, and I think it still looks cool to this day. It was designed by Ernst Reichl a famous artist and father of Ruth Reichl the well-known food writer and editor of Gourmet, I believe…

Okay, back to work…

Well, McSweeney’s Quarterly #28 is a magazine of sorts, but this issue consists of 8 little hardbacks (each one a separate, illustrated short story), laid 2 deep in a tray. The covers of the 4 on top make up the picture shown on the Amazon page… Each issue tries to be a little unusual in it’s presentation.

I just bought a copy of “Lamb” by Christopher Moore which is bound and printed to look like a Bible.

Desperation and The Regulators by Stephen King/Richard Bachman – the two dust jackets make one picture when the books are laid next to each other. I had the books for quite awhile before someone pointed it out to me.

The dust jacket of The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway is fuzzy, something I haven’t seen since I was a kid. If it’s a metaphor, I haven’t figured it out.

The OP excludes limiteds, but what if the limited is the only edition? I quite like the series of little books done by Borderlands Press. They’re pocket size hardcovers, each in a different color and done by a different author, i.e., The Little Purple Book of Peculiar Stories by Craig Shaw Gardner and The Magenta Book of Mean Stories by Elizabeth Massie.

Was Future Shock the book with different colors for the paperbacks? I think the change was supposed to highlight Toffler’s premise – change makes us nervous, or change attracts us – I forget. But it got some attention because of that, as well as the subject.

I think I’ve mentioned the hardcover edition of Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends in a similar thread: the book has three separate die-cut dust jackets that are overlaid to create a pretty cool effect.

The first paperback edition of Stephen King’s The Shining has the cover coated with aluminum foil. Eyecatching and quite snazzy – when it’s new. All the library copies had the foil peeling off in shreds within months, making the book look like crap.