This Group Is Saving Public Domain Books from Boring Covers


Like it or not, readers judge books by their covers—even if they’re classic works of literature. But once a book enters the public domain and is digitized, the original cover art often doesn't fare well. It's either inaccessible, looks fuzzy and old, or gets replaced with mediocre auto-generated covers. Sometimes the books are left with no cover art at all.

In 2013, Jennifer 8. Lee, co-founder of digital literary studio Plympton, teamed up with the Creative Action Network, a community of social activists who run crowdsourced art campaigns for good causes. Together, they co-launched Recovering the Classics, an initiative that aimed to crowdsource fresh, contemporary covers for 50 (and then 100) public domain books from a variety of artists and designers.

According to Wired, the designs turned out so well that Recovering the Classics ended up partnering with the New York Public Library and the Digital Public Library of America to bring the covers to libraries and schools across the country. Now, Recovering the Classics is running a Kickstarter called the 50x50 Project. They want to raise money to publicly exhibit 50 of their brand-new book covers in all 50 states. So far, gallery events have been held in New York and San Francisco, and more are in the works. Learn more about the 50x50 Project's efforts in the video above, or learn how you can host your own exhibit via their website.

[h/t Slate]

Banner image via Recovering the Classics.