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The Culture Of Academic Book Covers


I have never understood why so many academic books have abstract, irrelevant pieces of artwork on their covers, when it would not be difficult to add a photograph or sketch related to the topic of the book.

This book, for example – The Cultures Of Work Organizations, by Harrison Truce and Janice Beyer – could have a photograph of people in an office environment. Instead, it has a painting of a red and orange splotch, by Merle Krumper.

The publisher, Prentice-Hall, employed a jacket designer for this book – Bruce Keneslaar. Bruce, if you’re out there, can you explain? What does the red splotch have to do with work cultures?

7 comments to The Culture Of Academic Book Covers

  • Having worked in 2 bookstores, my opinion is simply that they churn out the books as cheaply and quickly as possible, knowing that the cover is not so important to sales of those books as much as with an impulse purchase.

    • J Clifford

      Is 30 to 60 minutes’ work really judged not to be worth it? Or even the fee paid to a photography service? Depressing.

      • There’s also the work of a publisher dealing with an author who might be fussy about a picture. I guess the publishers don’t want the bother, so they tell the authors that they are using the nondescript illustration and don’t want to waste any time discussing otherwise. Yes, depressing, but capitalism has even worse effects than that!

      • Those are some of the many reasons that many authors publish their own books.

  • J Clifford

    Have you published any of your own books, Korky? If so, did you have a positive experience?

  • henry gibson

    Here’s another absolutely pointless and useless “article”. To answer the author, however I would like to state that if you can’t discern the patterns and images from that book cover’s “abstract” art to clearly see how it is very, very relevant to the book’s subject matter, then you either are not educated enough, aren’t trying enough, or don’t have enough cognition to grasp it. Wow, it is so cool, clear, and absolutely aligned with the book’s subject. It’s uncanny. “red splotch”? That’s really funny; you almost sound like you really don’t understand what it is about.

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