12 Vintage Book Covers

This week’s post is all about judging books by their covers – specifically vintage books.

Older book cover designs are artful and understated. They use illustration and graphic design in such a way that many of them could be blown-up to poster size and still work well. Here’s a round up of 12 inspiring vintage book cover designs that use great typefaces, illustrations and color combinations:

"You Only Live Twice," by Ian Fleming.

This illustration on this cover is creepy. I also like the stacked type in different colors. Image via: www.Bookscans.com

"Brave New World," by Aldous Huxley.

This cover looks like an old travel poster. The simple two-color design packs a lot of punch. Image via www.wikifirsteditions.com.

"Daisy Miller," by Henry James.

I like how the Coliseum, which is a big part of the story,  shows up in the background of this cover. Image via www.Bookscans.com

"In Cold Blood," by Truman Capote.

The hat pin sticking into the title subtly underscores the violence at the center of this book. Image via www.manhattanrarebooks.com

"A Clockwork Orange," by Anthony Burgess.

This cover illustration is classic. The use of color is perfect. Image via www.Coverbrowser.com

"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Francis Cugat’s famous illustration for the first edition of “The Great Gatsby.” Image via www.Debenblog.blogspot.com

"Gone With the Wind," by Margaret Mitchell.

The font on the cover is nostalgic and somehow reminiscent of the old South. Image via www.Wikifirsteditions.com

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," by Ken Kesey.

Crazy type is fitting for this novel, and I like the colorful cover design. Image via www.Earlybirdcatchestheworm.wordpress.com.

"Alice in Wonderland," by Lewis Carroll.

Alice has been re-imagined by so many different illustrators and filmmakers. Here is another great character-sketch of her. Image via www.Alexiesworld.blogspot.com

"The Glass Bead Game," by Herman Hesse.

Here’s another cover that’s so interesting, it could easily become a full-sized poster. Image via www.Simania.co.il

"Lord of the Flies," by William Golding.

Brilliant idea to smear the cover ofLord of the Flies” with a red design that suggests blood and fire. Image via www.Designspongeonline.com.

"Lady Chatterly's Lover," by D.H. Lawrence.

I love that this book was banned and had to be surreptitiously smuggled from reader to reader. The hot pink cover with nude figures speaks to the erotic story inside. Image via www.Bookscans.com.

7 Responses to 12 Vintage Book Covers

  1. Jennifer September 8, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    So beautiful! I want framed posters of all of these.

    I’ve always liked this analysis of The Catcher in the Rye cover:

  2. Sonia September 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    OK, here comes the TV nerd …

    There was a challenge on Bravo’s “Work of Art” in which the artists had to design a cover for a classic book, and the winner got their book cover published. The winning cover was for “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, but sadly Bravo has put their logo and the show’s logo on the cover, which really takes away how cool it looked.

    See! http://www.amazon.com/dp/0143118412/?tag=realityblurred

  3. David Tracy September 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    I like the “Great Gatsby” cover. The original “Catcher in the Rye” had a really nice cover also.

  4. Heyjoe September 9, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    There should be a fly on LOTF. And I’m with David on Gatsby. AND I actually have a 1st edition In Cold Blood with that very cover.

  5. Jennifer September 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I just discovered this keen site:


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