Today, Vintage books unveiled 18 redesigned covers for some of Vladimir Nabokov's works. Maybe if they make the art work all nice, people will forget that there's big words and difficult ideas inside. Still, they're pretty cool.
Each of the covers (no Lolita, alas) was designed by a different artist using only paper and pins in a butterfly box, to reflect Nabokov's love of butterfly collecting. While they are sure to be the prettiest things on the trade paperback table in the front of Borders, it doesn't mean that anyone other than former English majors are going to have any idea who Nabokov is or what his lesser works are about. There's a contest to win a copies of the new books.
While the American public would rather swaddle itself with Harry Potter books and People magazines, this continues the trend of publishers trying to make the classics new again by slapping a new bit of art on the front and marketing them to hip people who want to carry around some gorgeous intellectual accessory and make people think they're smart. We hope this spoonful of sugar works, and people love the cover so much that they actually take the time to read what's inside. But, if what sitcoms have been telling us all these years is true and what matters is really on the inside, then we're screwed.
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