When A Book Cover Judges You

In News by Dennis Abrams

Dutch designer Thijs Biersteker has come up with a book jacket that will only open when a prospective reader shows the right facial expression.

By Dennis Abrams

There is of course the old adage that “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” And that’s true enough. But what happens when the book cover judges you?

This now seems to be a possibility. The Guardian reports that Thijs Biersteker of the digital entrepreneurs Moore has come up with a book jacket that will only open when a prospective reader shows no judgment.

That’s right. The book grants permission to be read on a case-by-case basis.

Here’s how it works. An integrated camera and facial recognition system scans the prospective reader’s face, (the cover art is taken directly from Fritz Lang’s silent film and futuristic masterpiece Metropolis) and will only unlock the book when the reader’s facial expression is neutral. (In the prototype, the book contains creative work for the Art Directors Club Netherlands.)

On his website, Biersteker explained the thinking behind the cover:

“My aim was to create a book cover that is human and approachable hi-tech. If you approach the book, if you’re overexcited or your face shows a sceptical expression, the book will stay locked. But if your expression is neutral (no judgment) the system will send an audio pulse and the book will unlock itself. I often worry about my scepticism and judgement getting in the way of my amazement. Judgment should never hinder the relentless enthusiasm of seeing things for the first time.”

As Biersteker told Yahoo Tech: “I think there is a lot of Irony in a book that judges you on judgement by judging you. The playfulness in combination with the heavy technology makes people smile the moment they see [it].”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.