What’s better than a book with one book cover? A book with 32 book covers, of course!
Highly acclaimed novelist Dave Eggers has done just that with his newest release, The Every, which features 32 individual cover designs and counting. Eggers and the publishing house he founded, McSweeney’s, is releasing the book, naturally, and states on their website that the hardcover version of the novel will boast a “dizzying, ever-expanding, and entirely randomized array of cover variations” for years to come.
Never one to shy away from pushing boundaries, Eggers teamed up with art director Sunra Thompson for the project, who discovered that the dust jacket printer they were using could run several cover designs on one sheet of paper at once, providing the means to print dozens of different versions at the same time. Thompson decided to exploit this printing feature, enlisting a boatload of artists to design a completely new version of The Every cover, thanks to connections made by Noah Lang from the San Francisco gallery Electric Works.
Each designer received an advance copy of the book along with a short description, eliciting an array of responses, with some artists creating entirely new works and others using existing pieces that they felt connected to the story.
Since the book has over 30 unique covers, each artist had the freedom to interpret and tease out different aspects of the book in their designs—no one jacket wasn’t responsible for communicating every theme and salient element of the story.
Aside from the multiple book cover feature, it’s also noteworthy that Eggers and McSweeney’s are only making the hardcover edition of the novel available through independent booksellers, excluding behemoth retailers like Amazon.
“One of the themes of the book is the power of monopolies to dictate our choices, so it seemed a good opportunity to push back a bit against the monopoly, Amazon, that currently rules the book world,” Eggers recently told The New York Times. “So we started looking into how feasible it would be to make the hardcover available only through independent bookstores. Turns out it is very, very hard.”
Eggers flexed that same renegade publishing spirit before, back in 2002 when he made the hardcover version of his novel You Shall Know Our Velocity only available through 500 independent bookstores. But almost two decades later and the Amazonian chokehold has only intensified around our culture, making Eggers’ recent endeavors with The Every all the more challenging and poignant.
The mom-and-pop book shops selling the book will receive a random distribution of the cover designs that have been available for purchase since early October. Paperback and eBook versions of the novel will get offered more widely in time, but the hardcover will remain exclusive to independent booksellers.
For added flair, McSweeney’s tapped lettering artist Jessica Hische to design a logo for the book, and designer Eve Weinsheimer created a series of unexpected color combinations. There are 16 variations in varying colors of Hische’s logo covers, all of which will get used for the paperback edition.
After seeing the design opportunities unleashed by The Every and its 32-plus covers, going back to books with one cover just feels lazy and mundane. While it might be frowned up to judge a book by its cover, no one ever said anything against judging a book by how many covers.