• Steven Heller

Pre-War European Book Jackets

The book jacket was an experimental canvas for Western and Eastern European designers during the 1930s. They earned only a small amount of money, but played with photography, collage, montage, lettering—as well as surreal juxtapositions. Some of the jackets had political implications, and others abstractly telegraphed the plots.

Marketing committees were not yet introduced—the relationship was between the designer and the publisher. And the publisher did not view the jacket as a sales tool as much as a distinctive poster that offered the potential reader an abstract of the material therein.

The jackets below are a sampling from houses in Berlin, Vienna and Prague.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →