The Look of the Book

How Publishers React to the Nobel Prize in Literature

In: Journal of World Literature
Sarah A. Nienhaus Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Munich Germany

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This paper shows how book design responds to the Nobel’s prestige. Using previously unpublished materials from German publishing archives, I explore how the Nobel Prize is accompanied by the requirement to design iconic books. This unique material documents how different players in the publishing industry exchange ideas about ‘Nobel Prize-appropriate’ book design. This applies, for example, to the illustrations for an essay by Octavio Paz, designed covers for Nadine Gordimer, and the pictorial representation of Günter Grass’s and Tomas Tranströmer’s ‘life and work’.

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