The Look of the E-book celebrates the quilt design “on the sting of literature”.

The often subversive history of book cover design is retold in a new title from Ten Speed ​​Press, which celebrates and explores the many ways publishers are using to attract readers' attention

Written by Peter Mendelsund and David J Alworth, the book examines some of the recurring themes of cover design and examines trends that have shaped the way books have been marketed over the decades.

It highlights some of the influential changes along the way – from the first dust jackets in the 19th century, to the rise of graphic design as a profession, to some of the stories behind controversial titles like Lolita. There are also comments from cover designers, for example David Pelham reviewing some of his earliest notes for his now legendary JG Ballard novels.

Penguin Science Fiction covers for The Terminal Beach, The Wind from Nowhere and The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard, designed by David Pelham, who was art director at Penguin Books from 1968 to 1979The big book lookThe Fall of the One-Eyed Witness by Alder Stanley Gardner, 1955, uncredited draft

In addition to outstanding examples from the history of cover design, Mendelsund has filled the book with his own views on popular novels such as Ulysses – exploring the types of covers that might be possible outside of the confines of the publisher's requirements.

Abduction of George Waller, 1962, uncredited design. The Velvet Underground by Michael Leigh, 1963, designed by Paul Bacon Studio. Hang-Up by Sam Ross, 1969, designed by James Bama. Robert Trumbull's raft, 1944, designed by George A. Frederiksen

The book is a welcome reminder of what a full designer book cover does for designers, and how influential they can be in creating a title-reader relationship.

The look of the book is published by Ten Speed ​​Press at a price of $ 50.