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Judge These Books by Their Covers

Literary classics enjoy gorgeous makeovers.

The video above is a Kickstarter pitch for the 50x50 project, part of Recovering the Classics’ makeover campaign for classic books. When a literary classic ages into the public domain, their original covers essentially get left behind. The books go faceless, or worse, slapped with auto-generated covers featuring subpar artwork. They deserve better.

Recovering the Classics has taken it upon itself to get classic books facelifts befitting their beloved status. Inviting a range of artists to design sets of updated covers, the old texts are getting completely new looks. And the response has been amazing.

During the 2015 holiday season, Warby Parker began selling the first in a series of new printed editions of these classics with covers designed by its own in-house artists, starting with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and This Side of Paradise.

Digital books with the new designs will be available at the New York Public Library, in California libraries via Califa, and some Illinois libraries through their RAILS consortiumGoogle Books also plans to use the new covers for their public domain offerings, and, perhaps most usefully, they’ll also appear is an e-book app for low-income kids recently announced by the White House.

And then there are the art exhibits, which is what the 50x50 Project Kickstarter is all about. Recovering the Classics wants to display 50 of the new covers at schools and libraries in all 50 states. The organization has already had gallery showings in New York and San Francisco, and after reaching its initial funding goal, additional contributions will now go toward more and bigger shows.