I have a warm copy of The Information in hand—the first on my block, I’m quite sure—and I am having trouble getting past the jacket. Maybe not everyone is going to like it. When I first saw a mock-up I didn’t even know whether I liked it.* The digital postage-stamp versions don’t do it justice. It’s astonishing.
The artist is unheralded. You can find his name in small type on the inside back flap: Peter Mendelsund. In the business he is already something of a rock star. In part that’s because he designed the covers for the American editions of the Stieg Larsson books; but success aside, he is seen turning out one work of art after another. His blog, Jacket Mechanical, has some examples. For a sense of the profound intelligence behind every one of his covers, don’t miss his essay on Kafka (a story featuring, among others, Alfred A. Knopf and a young editor named Hannah Arendt).
Some people may think jackets are unimportant, or ephemeral, or anyway merely about selling. And they may think jackets are a passing phase, already obsolete in the age of the e-book. But if books are worth treasuring, in any medium, jackets like these are part of the reason.
*He and a colleague recently alluded to “intractable, unimaginative, chronically contrarian, color-blind, or just plain grumpy clients.” But surely he didn’t mean me.