After last weeks high concept high art piece, lets go back a bit to a time when book jackets were not all airbrushed wasps and TV-Tie-ins. This cover to The Body In The Library is still pretty high concept, and designed nicely without a computer in sight. Indeed its “letters as book jackets” conceit is perhaps a little too successful, giving the actual book title and slightly unreadable font to fit in with the conceit.

Oddly the typographical stab here is possibly more readable to those of use who grew up in the eighties with similar style blocky computer graphics which these almost represent. And one letter your Mode 2 BBC computer ofter had trouble rendering well was the letter Y. Here the designer, having fitted in some nicely plausible curves on then curvy letters, loses the plot on the Y’s on the top and bottom shelf. Every other letter could be a book, except this strangely bifurcated tome. But then this book jacket was completely drawn (hence even Agatha’s name being in a pretty clunky font).

This image is from the 1942 Australian Collins Crime Club edition, as sold in a Tokyo Book auction here for 64,000 Yen (unclear if that was asking price or guide price). That’s about three hundred quid, cos there is a bit of a collecters market in Christie. As for the plot, well the comments crew I am sure will be able to tell you more but its safe to say that cosy English mystery + library = classic. It may actually be one of the few Marples I have seen done on TV – possible in the recent Geraldine James permutation (aka The Biddy in The Library). Note the current UK Harper cover uses a similar idea to the one above, but is much more content in suggesting that library shelves are also places you find lamps and letter shaped nik-naks*. Also that Amazon thinks the book would be prefectly paired with Germaine Greer’s Zastrozzi!


*Not as nice as Scampi and Lemon Nik-Naks.