This year the Amazon books editors decided to add a new list to our annual "Best of the Year" round-up: the Best Book Covers of 2008. It goes without saying that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But, let's be perfectly honest-- the cover is the ante, the amuse-bouche, the opening line, the come-hither look. Cover art counts. When the jacket works it makes us give the book a shot. Case in point, our number 10 pick on the list: Wacky Packages by the Topps Company. The book is a collection of images of Wacky Packages. Remember those? What fresh-faced American kid in the 60's and 70's didn't love hitting the 7-11 or neighborhood grocery store with her allowance burning a hole in her pocket to pick up the latest pack of trading stickers (that came with a stick of bubble gum). Art Speigelman and co. created hysterical sticker-art send-ups of products ranging from toothpaste to laundry detergent. These treasures brought hours of glee to kids of the M.A.D. generation of Alfred E. Neuman. Yeah, we still collected baseball cards, but Wacky Packages stickers were great for trading too, and you could stick them on your notebook, your locker, your dog's house, etc. Okay, you get the idea...back to the book.
Here we have a pleasing, square-shaped book with a rather simple red cover of the bright logo from a Wacky Pack (that's how we used to say it in suburban Philadelphia, and apparently this is the jargon used by collectors). This cover gets high marks for being "on-brand," bright, and bold; but, here is the kicker. The cover not only looks consistent with the actual item it is commemorating, it feels like it, too. The good folks of Harry N. Abrams, Inc. publishers decided to splurge on dust jacket paper that feels just like the Wacky Pack wax-paper wrappers. Picking up the book is like being hit with a wave of nostalgia. Opening the cover of the book brings to mind ripping into my latest allowance spend: a fresh new pack of stickers. All that's missing from this nearly perfect book design package is a thin slab of flour-y pink gum.
Check out the full list:
- The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, David Hajdu
- Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, Kenny Shopsin
- Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, Chip Kidd
- Things I have learned in my life so far, Stefan Sagmeister (check out the video demo)
- The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts, Tom Farley
- Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, Mark Harris
- All Known Metal Bands, Dan Nelson
- Ms. Hempel Chronicles, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
- 2666 (3 Volume Boxed Set), Roberto Bolano
- Wacky Packages, The Topps Company
See more in the Best of 2008 Store.