Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

The Hypothetical Library



The subtitle of the blog The Hypothetical Library is “Imaginary Book Covers. Designed for Real Authors.” And that sums up this interesting little project nicely. Book designer Charlie Orr collaborates with real authors like Colum McCann, David Lehman, and Thomas Kelly to design covers for books that the authors have not written—and never will write.

I ask each writer to provide flap copy for a book that they haven’t, won’t, but in theory could, write, and then I design a cover for it.

I am not a writer. I have tried over the years, but it is simply something I can not do well. I am, however, a designer—and it’s my combined love of books and graphic design that brought me to the book cover as an outlet for any literary ambitions I may have had. […] Looking back I’ve seen how the two disciplines have influenced one another. In both, a single image combined with some brief text can convey an expansive narrative.

Each entry includes an introduction to the hypothetical work and cover, the hypothetical flap copy and blurbs, and a (real) biography of the author. The project has only been in progress for a few months, but my favorite so far is the cover for McCann’s imagined novel In the Country Below—a great example of an evocative cover.

Am I the only one who wishes these books were real?

Literary Partners