Book covers emblazoned with minimalist illustrations and handwritten text design have become all the rage in literary fiction, but it’s not a new trend. Flavorwire collected the first-edition covers of 25 classic books, ranging from an embossed leather-bound copy of The Scarlet Letter in 1850 to Toni Morrison’s Beloved in 1987, showcasing just how different the original designs for iconic books have become over the years, but also the enduring popularity of stark, minimal covers. J.R.R. Tolkien’s original cover designs for The Lord Of The Rings are nearly indistinguishable, the original cover of George Orwell’s 1984 is subtle and subliminal, and the first cover of Flannery O’Connor’s story collection A Good Man Is Hard To Find is pure retro cool. The only enduring design of the bunch (and one of the most colorful) is Francis Cugat’s first edition cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which has been restored as the cover image for modern editions.
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