If The Picture of Dorian Gray was assigned to you in high school or college, you know the cover belies the weirdness within the story. In most versions a man stands near a painting, posed stiffly, lending the whole thing a stuffy air. If you read the book, you know that’s not the case at all. Wilde’s lively language and surreal scenes make for a moving, peculiar read. So why doesn’t the cover match the book’s vibrancy?
Roberlan Borges designed one that does, with florescent greens and hot pinks sloshing inside a floating head, and bursting beyond a white mask. His design is part of a project organized by The Creative Action Network and DailyLit called "Recovering the Classics," in which designers were asked to pep up the vibe of stodgy book covers.
“People wouldn’t say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ if it weren’t something people do all the time," Max Slavkin, co-founder of The Creative Action Network, said in an email with The Huffington Post. "The classics are some of the greatest works of art there are, and deserve covers to match.”
One of the main objectives of the projects is to make covers available for digital versions of books like Pride and Prejudice and Little Women, which have entered the public domain and are available for free on e-readers, but are often packaged in unappealing ways.
“We hope 'Recovering The Classics' can highlight the value and beauty of making information free, like the classics in the public domain,” Slavkin said. “We believe that when content is free, we all win, and that the copyright laws we have today are far too restrictive.”
Another aim is to make classics appealing to younger readers, who might be put-off by coverless or dusty-covered tomes, but might reconsider an older book with a splash of color on its cover.
“For kids reading these books in school, like all of us did, the cover can be especially important when they’re reading the classics on their iPads.” Slavkin said. “Fresh covers bring new life to the books, and make them more inviting to today’s students who browse online all the time.”