New ML jackets

Matthew Buckingham mdbuckingham at
Thu Jun 19 03:03:17 EDT 2003

Actually, color is probably the least of the many things I find dissatisfactory about the post-1992 Modern Library. For some reason, the books seem to have had quality control problems from the first: jackets fitted crookedly or too loosely on the books (sometimes requiring the buyer to essentially re-crease the jacket to get it to fit properly); bindings with uneven boards (viewed from the top, one board sticks out substantially farther than the other); I once purchased a copy of The Snopes Trilogy where the jacket had these weird white polyps from some kind of defect in the laminating process (the local independent bookseller kindly ordered a replacement, but it took her weeks before the publisher sent her one that wasn't more screwed up than the first). Although quality seems to have improved somewhat in recent years, I'm convinced whoever ran the presses for the Modern Library must have been legally blind to overlook some of the defects that found their way into bookshops.

Then there are the design issues: At first, spines featured a thumbnail portrait of the author at the top with the title and author's name printed horizontally below. This created a problem, of course, for thin volumes with long titles; customers couldn't read the small print at a distance. So a few years ago the publisher started printing the title and author's name vertically (not a bad idea, actually) but also started putting the thumbnail portrait anywhere along the spine (not always at the top like before). The result is, if you shelve your books alphabetically by author, the portraits on the older books all line up nicely until you come to one of the newer books, which bounces the portrait to some random point along the spine. To overcome this discordant effect, I shelve the older books alphabetically, followed by the newer books. All of which sort of defeats the purpose of publishing a series of books with uniform jackets in the first place. I now wish the Modern Library would ditch this uniform design altogether and give each book its own illustrated jacket (like they did with the new Charterhouse of Parma or the striking Rimbaud volume they did recently) and simply keep the uniform volume size and the torchbearer colophon at the base of the spine.

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: J Godsey 
  To: modlib at 
  Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 4:01 PM
  Subject: RE: [Fwd: Illustrated Holy Bible]

  does anyone besides me detest the new modern library dust jackets?
  that green/gold color doesn't go with anything.

  J. Godsey 
  14 Pleasant St.
  Methuen, MA 01844
  gods at

  Selling books since 1980
  Member of the IOBA - Independent Online Booksellers Association
  Publisher of Sic, the Book Humor magazine
  Distributors of "Book Deodorizer"


  > -----Original Message-----
  > From: owner-modlib at [mailto:owner-modlib at]On
  > Behalf Of j b krygier
  > Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:02 PM
  > To: ModLib List
  > Subject: [Fwd: Illustrated Holy Bible]
  > forwarded by modlib admin.
  > -------- Original Message --------
  > From: "David Medsker" <davidmedsker at>
  > To: <modlib at>
  > Subject: Illustrated Holy Bible
  > Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 13:23:16 -0500
  > Anyone know where I can find an Illustrated Bible? Thanks
  > Also, Modlib made the cover of the Wall Street Journal today. Story was
  > about Barnes and Noble publishing similar titles and coming in a couple of
  > dollars cheaper. Also said Bertelsmen UK owned Modern Library. They must
  > have meant that Bertelsmen owns Random House?
  > David
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