Judging a Book by its Cover: A Clockwork Orange

Lately, I’ve taken to nosily asking people, “what’s your ‘magician’s book’?” and explaining the concept, roughly, from Laura Miller’s The Magician’s Book: loosely, a book against which all other reading experiences are measured and, I think, usually found somewhat wanting.

My mother, to my surprise, said A Clockwork Orange. I never thought of my mom as the “Clockwork Orange” type. I mean, here’s a picture of us: 10565188_10202280447283500_810555654795963155_n

I don’t know what I was expecting her to say, but A Clockwork Orange was not it.

Usually these “Judging a Book by its Cover” posts come from books in my library, or books I’ve been reading lately. I wrote the first post, about Ellen Renner’s Castle of Shadows, because I was surprised (in a bad way) by the default cover/edition on Goodreads. Today, I’m writing about a book that I have never read and, given what I understand about the story, probably never will.

I used to be in design. I’ve never read this book, but I’ve seen this cover. It’s iconic.

A Clockwork OrangeWhat do you do, as a designer, when redesigning an iconic book cover?

Do you go with the same idea, like a callback?

A Clockwork OrangeOr do you do something completely different?

A Clockwork OrangeI’ve never read this book. I probably never will. I definitely won’t be buying it for my (elementary) library, so I’m interested in this one less as a reader or as a librarian, and more as a designer. It’s certainly a conundrum. I like the callback, and I like the jarring, unexpected discontinuity of the all-white cover. I mean, even the Penguin Modern Classics paperback uses orange as the accent color:

A Clockwork Orange



My favorite cover on Goodreads is this Georgian edition, published in 2013. It reminds me of (M.T. Anderson’s) Feed.
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