October 3, 2012
Classic book covers redesigned to promote literacy
by Nick Davies
Thanks to this post on Flavorwire, I found out about an international project to promote literacy through redesigned covers of classic novels. Belgian design firm beshart has launched an effort to raise money for and awareness of the problem of illiteracy by enlisting 100 designers from 28 different countries to create new designs for the 100 greatest novels of all time, as determined by the Observer in a 2003 poll. The collection, titled DoeDeMee, was launched on September 8—International Literacy Day—at Antwerp City Hall.
Some of my favorites are in the slideshow below, and you can check out the full collection at the DoeDeMee website, and buy your favorites for 35€ apiece (about $45).
Designed by Shelley Revill. In this cover of the classic tale by our beloved Herman Melville, Revill recalls the stamps found in old whaling logs, and uses the text of the title to suggest the shape of the titular white whale.
Designed by Lobulo Design. Don Quixote clocked in at the top of the Observer’s list of greatest novels. Of the cover, artist Javier explains that he wanted to capture the three stages of Quixote’s life: knight, mad, and dead.
Designed by Seonaid MacKay. This cover shows the white city of Oran in Algeria, walled off after an outbreak of the plague. Designer MacKay explains that she wanted to depict Oran as “both threatening and beautiful. In my image I show the town at night, everything still and calm under the moon, except for a single rat in the sea, picked out in the moonlight; it is the carrier of the plague, and it is swimming towards the shore.”
Designed by Inge Lavrijsen. This take on Dahl’s children’s book was built entirely in a cardboard box, with a keen eye for the whimsical fantasy that characterizes The BFG and his other works.
Designed by Lauren Gentry. Choosing not to depict the novel’s heroine, but the more sinister Bertha Mason, Gentry captures the darkness and danger that she represents in the book.
Designed by Laura Schillemans. In her design for McEwan’s tale of lost love and missed opportunity, Schillemans hopes to evoke “the path between ‘where you are’ and ‘where you want to be.’ It’s a bit of a grim picture, which expresses the feeling of a love story gone awry.”
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.