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Which would you buy?

Neither age nor beauty before money.

On the left we have Jan Bruegel the Elder’s (Flemish, 1568–1625) A Woodland with Travelers (detail). On the right is a design by John Gall, art director at Vintage.

There are many details in the Bruegel painting, which Edward Mullany and I recently found in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. The Gall cover provides an immediate effect, disembodiment being one of the first things to come to mind-craziness, a person out of their head. In terms of story, this cover is much more related to the book wherein a group of psychologists gather at a pancake restaurant and kvetch as the main character experiences a unique episode of floating to the ceiling. It’s pop, it’s simple, it seems the better choice, but is it?

“Gall says that one of the most challenging tasks is to take a beautiful cover and redesign it so that the book can sell. One example is The Verificationist written by Donald Antrim.”  – from a Carnegie Mellon lecture

9 thoughts on “Which would you buy?

  1. Ooh, good question.

    I think they’re both good, but the painting one wins based on level of difficulty. The type design there is great.

  2. Never been crazy about classic paintings on book covers. Diverts from the work, takes away from the painting, nothing gained.

  3. i would never stop to look at the one on the left. i wouldn’t even see it on the table. christ, the army could use it as camouflage. so, yeah, the one on the right.

  4. This IS a good question. My immediate reaction is to favor the right as modern, clean, etc., and a little weird. The one on the left is good but, for me at least, brings a lot of its own ideas to the book. I’d expect that book to be chock full of werewolf hunts or weird church gatherings in the woods or children who speak the language of fish.

  5. The one on the right catches my interest because I’m a sucker for Bataille’s ideas of acephalia, but probably the image isn’t referencing that kind of thing…

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