November 15, 2011

facsimile dust jackets and ebook artifacts

This morning Very Short List pointed to Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC, a project from Mark Terry. Since 1999 he's been archiving images of book dust jackets, and offers prints of them for sale on his site. Here's one from William Faulkner, one from Agatha Christie and one from Don DeLillo.

I've been kind of obsessed with these today; not because I'm interested in ordering replacement dust jackets, but just with the idea of replacing the "book on the shelf" as the signifier of ownership (and maybe even actual enjoyment) of books. Facsimile dust jackets are one angle, of course -- and repro's of vintage titles are the library nerd equivalent of the old Italian movie poster. But are any book publishers taking the approach that TopSpin championed with musicians?

  • Give me the digital sample chapter in exchange for my email address
  • Sell me the ebook for $9.99
  • Sell me the ebook plus a frameable repro of the book cover for $19.99
  • Sell me all that plus a hardcopy for $29.99
  • Sell me all that plus an archivally printed copy of background material, editor's notes, rough drafts, etc., for $99.99
  • Etc., etc.

Following in the footsteps of the music business, if the book itself is no longer an artifact, can publishers create new ones that fans are willing to pay for?