May 31, 2018

For the love of a good Philip Roth cover


Philip Roth died last week at the age of eighty-four, leaving behind an undeniable legacy. Roth was huge, and helped launch the “big time literary author” trope into the pop culture stratosphere. But what drew some readers in wasn’t (ahem) his writing — it was the innovative, inventive, and often minimalistic covers that graced many of his books.

I’m a sucker for a good book cover. Paul Bacon’s emblematic, type-driven cover for Portnoy’s Complaint, to choose one, has since been imitated seemingly everywhere — from the cover of Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl to posters for Alex Ross Perry’s 2014 film Listen Up Philip—and publishers continue to reissue his work using those iconic designs. They’re so simple and, well, alluring. And let’s face it, we all judge books by their covers, at least a little.

Look at these books and tell me you wouldn’t stop and pull them from a shelf:




Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.