Much taken with the cover of the December 5th New Yorker (which arrived at my house today):

(This is a scan of my copy, with my address info blocked out.)

It’s a book store — see the BOOKS (in reverse) on the window — but there are almost no books in evidence. Instead, bibliana, book-related stuff, including all manner of things with literary figures represented on them: t-shirts, totebags, calendars, school lunchboxes, bobblehead dolls (Twain! Shakespeare!), ballcaps (Tolstoy, Kerouac, Poe, Bronte). Plus booklights and eReaders (electronic devices for reading books, like Kindles, iBooks, and Nooks), which are not in themselves books.

But the customer is pointing to a low shelf that seems to contain a few actual books. The storeowner (or clerk) looks nonplussed.

Deliciously, the artist is the cartoonist / graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, an instrumental figure in bringing this genre into the mainstream book world. The comic-book style is immediately recognizable.

Maybe the books the customer is pointing to are graphic novels, or collections of comic strips.

5 Responses to “Bibliana”

  1. Ned Deily Says:

    Interesting how we all see these things. To me the roles are reversed: the man is the customer looking nonplussed as the clerk in the orange team t-shirt answers his question about where to find the books. Two possible hints to support that view: the writing on the orange t-shirt appears to start with “BO” and there is another person wearing what appears to be a similar orange t-shirt in the background, possible another clerk. But it could easily be the other way around.

  2. Jenny Says:

    I was just typing the same thing when my browser crashed. The man looks uncomfortable and out of place, while the woman knows what is where. Also, is that a tiny book above the BO… on her sweater?

    I miss bookstores.

  3. John Lawler Says:

    I think it’s very clever how the artist placed the “bookshelf” in the lower left, where the books — and even their identity as books — was sure to be occluded by the address label. Thus underlining how other media and their distribution systems are crowding out books and their distribution systems. I always like self-demonstrating art.

    I noticed that on Kate’s copy, too, and we had an interesting discussion about it. And NYr covers generally.

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