Recovering the Classics is a project that crowdsourced new cover designs for classic books, “with the goal of reviving the canon for a new generation of readers” (Vatner, 2016). It was launched in 2013 and I think it ended in 2016 – unfortunately, their website is not available anymore, but I managed to find other sources of information on the world wide web.
I’ll present details about the project by explaining its 3 main pillars:
- upgrade the image of classics in today’s society
- focus on book covers
- enable value by crowdsourcing
§ Upgrade the image of classics in today’s society
As someone who enjoys reading classics, sometimes I feel that classic books are seen as outdated and not-so-interesting for today’s society. I’m not saying everyone should read them, but they should definitely be given a chance despite their long “journey”.
100 classics were considered part of the project, starting from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley to Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The full list of classics can be found here.
§ Focus on the book covers
The whole idea of the project started from the observation that most classics found on Project Gutenberg did not have an attractive cover. “It might technically be available, but if it is, it’s ugly and poor quality,” said Jennifer Lee, one of the initiators (Wired, 2016).
Given that nowadays design can make or break any product (including books), and also given our human nature to judge a book by its cover, classics were in real need of a book cover redesign in order to keep up with the trends.
§ Enable value by crowdsourcing
What I found fascinating is that the project was wildly popular: “more than 750 artists and designers uploaded ideas, essentially creating a database of modern covers for classic titles” (Wired, 2016). I think this proves that the need for “upgrading” classics to today’s trends from a visual point of view was widely recognized!
The project also had an offline component – the 50 x 50 galleries. A selection of posters made a tour of American schools and libraries with the aim of raising interest in classics.
What do you think about these type of projects? Have you heard of other similar projects meant to raise interest in classics or reading in general? Please tell me in the comments section down below!
‘Till next time … happy reading and happy holidays!