Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover

“Covers” by Henning M. Lederer on Vimeo

Way back in 2009, an observant blogger from the New York Observer noticed a “new trend” among booksellers. Rather than wrapping books in colorful paper dust jackets, some books incorporated the art directly onto their covers. It must have been quite an observation, since other bloggers repeated or quickly replicated the original blog. I can’t say I noticed at the time, so here is my contribution to the conversation, a mere eight years later.

Since book cover décor is no longer a new trend, the publishing industry has had sufficient time to perfect its practice. Our collection contains many artistic covers that express the books’ spirit. Then again, sometimes they don’t. Here are a few examples:

Understanding Nutrition

I sense this book has a vegetarian bias, but that’s alright, because as far as I am concerned, a meal without vegetables is like a day without sunshine. It’s clear this book has something to do with food and water, or possibly hydroponic farming. No animals were harmed in the making of this cover.

Social Work Practice in the Military

We thank you for your service. Now let’s undo the snafu.



Brain and Behavior

To illustrate biological psychology, this cover features an illuminated brain. It also indicates it is a book that offers great quality at a great price, which would be enough to light up MY brain.


Social Work Practice with Children

I don’t see any social work occurring, but those are definitely children pictured on the cover. It reminds me of one of those old United Colors of Benneton ads. It isn’t too difficult to find children to photograph, so display them proudly. Remember publishers, child models need the work!

Dimensions of Human Behavior

A family surrounding a giant sequoia makes no sense until you read the book subtitle: Person and Environment. The only picture that captures the concept of “environment” as much a tree is a group of people hugging a tree.


Racial and Ethnic Groups

This cover could be the official face of Who Do You Think You Are? It required quite a bit of creativity, and liberal use of Photoshop®. It is one of my favorites.


Fundamentals of Microbiology

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Be afraid, be very, very afraid.



Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

Heart: check. Lungs: check. Now all you need are little sneaker-clad feet on them, so they can get in shape running a marathon.



Wound Management

This cover features a rusty bore hole to represent a wound, which is more aesthetically pleasing than an actual oozing, pus filled puncture boo-boo. (Squeamish? You big baby, YOU are the reason for the abstract cover!)


Handbook of Clinical Family Therapy

What’s with the penguins? We all know these creatures have well-adjusted   families, and you can’t tell me otherwise. I saw March of the Penguins. Morgan Freeman doesn’t lie.


Divorced, Without Children

I have never seen a happier group of gals, none of whom seem to need therapy at midlife. When not on this book, these women appear on the cover of “Jackpot: How We Picked the Winning Mega million Numbers.”


Introduction to Sociology

This is my favorite cover of all time. Yes, when we try, we can all get along.



Compare the following: Contemporary Management  vs. Strategic Human Resource Management


How much skill does it require to manage a flock of paper cranes? I would say, if you can manage those divergent jokers on the bicycle, you are indeed one able administrator.

Psychodiagnostic Assessment of Children vs. Clinical Interviews for Children


Using yo-yos to represent children is just plain lazy. Yo-yos were at the height of their popularity in 1964, but playing with one does not signify that the child is aberrant. If you are going to assess children, show me a child on your cover, even one that is way too delighted to meet with the school shrink.

Abnormal Psychology vs. Abnormal Psychology

Are those clouds? Is that a polar bear on a sooty glacier? Is it a low- rent Rorschach? I much prefer the image of the buttoned-up individual, who is having trouble keeping it together. Where abnormal psychology is concerned, it says it all.

The publishing industry has not abandoned dustjackets all together, nor has Touro Library. Typically dust jackets are removed from our books while they are being processed (stamp, stickered, and the like), and slipped back on before the books are transported to their individual branch libraries. Our books are shelved naked as the day they were born.

Dustjackets of our newly acquired books are on display in several areas, in order to announce their arrival.

If you you notice an interesting cover,

Use the catalog to ascertain its location.You can also use the “New Books” tab on our catalog…

To locate other new books in your discipline of choice.

Contributed by: Carol Schapiro, Librarian, Midtown

One thought on “Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover

  1. laurelscheinfeld August 15, 2017 / 10:53 am

    This post had us laughing out loud at the Bay Shore campus, which is very noticeable in a quiet library, but we couldn’t contain ourselves. Thanks Carol, for the comic relief!

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