Thursday, January 14, 2010

What the what?

The other day I decided to search for a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Which one might do. That's not so weird, yes? But I was caught completely up short when in Amazon's list of editions this (below) was their first offering. The live sex line chat photo was fabulous enough, but it was the font abuse and terrible design that really piqued my interest.

[note: click on book covers for larger images]
It turns out that this book and several dozen others are published by a company called IAP, an LLC based in Las Vegas, and the firm holding the ISBNs appears to be Instituto Benewell of Brazil, in particular a guy named Fabio R. de Araujo (de Araujo filed the LLC in May 2009).

Araujo is obsessed with prophecies and end of days (he's really worked up about Putin and 666) and has written books about Nostradamus, Mother Shipton and the giant flood that will end the earth. This is one of his bios:
Fabio R. de Araujo is a Historian. He researched prophecies in Europe and in the Americas for about 20 years. He is author of "Selected Prophecies and Prophets" and wrote a few books. He also collaborated in books and wrote articles published about prophecies in Europe and the Americas.
(Wrote a few books! Yay!) The dude seems fairly bonkers. I would link a little more, but the idea of search paths being carved to my door about a lot of that stuff is gnarly.

The books IAP publishes--other than those about prophecy and conspiracy and such--appear to be copyright-free classics such as Paradise Lost, The Ambassadors and Cousin Bette. As in: they were downloaded from Project Gutenberg, typeset, and printed. ? Or...? It's hard to tell what's going on, or why.

Their covers are pure joy, they are so awful. They generally pack in as many different fonts as possible, along with bevel and/or glow and/or flare and/or shadow, and a really cheap stock photo (most of them are from dreamstime.com).

I am not sure if you need to be a design nerd to enjoy their awfulness, but I have spent the last few days being very amused by covers like IAP's Ulysses. It's kind of Leon Uris with a little Watchtower or something thrown in. (IAP loves lens flare, as on the J in "James"; look for it again below on the Thomas Paine cover.)

I am fascinated that this funky publisher (and Institute of Learning and Research--more weirdness there) putting out these cheapass editions gets such high billing on Amazon; that edition of Ulysses comes up second for me when I search, for example. I'm also curious about legal issues (wouldn't a 1928 book by Lovecraft still be subject to copyright restrictions?). There is nothing much out there about the guy seemingly behind it, and the only thing linking him to the company via the ISBN is an old Yahoo email address.

If you are interested in seeing more IAP covers, you can do a search (note: there are at least a couple other publishers with that name, including one in North Carolina), but in the meantime, here are some more of my favorites from their catalog to enjoy!

Reason is skewed and twisted!

I understand everything but that arrow.

I'm pretty sure this is the exact street Lewis meant.

THEprinciplesOFpsychology.

THEoriginaldevilsdictionary. And what is that 1/8th of a guy on the lower left?

Is that Chicago? Is that wheat?

Freud's EAP pamphlet on smoking cessation.

11 comments:

Madigan said...

I do think you have to be a design nerd to appreciate a lot of these.

That Age of Reason cover looks absurd, though.

Jen S said...

this is glorious! thanks for sharing.

Dmitry Samarov said...

It'd be great to stick some of these into the airport novel section of any store and see if they sell any better than in their more 'dignified' presentations.'Principles of Psychology' is probably my favorite...

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

The James is fabulous, I agree! It looks like a sudoku book. Now I'm starting to think I might like the Freud the best...keeps growing on me. Especially the little hearts and the ambivalent-looking married couple.

americanfiction said...

I can't wait to read Legless Sherlock Holmes' next adventure!

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

He's not legless! He is just carefully morphed into the S. To subtly emphasize "Sherlock."

sbfren said...

Oh, those are lovely. Thanks!!

fashion survivor said...

Lady Chatterley as a chav!

martha said...

oh WOW. just. wow. The funhouseification of "Reason" is making me giggle uncontrollably.

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

It's really not necessary to keep trying to figure this out, but now I think Main Street is my favorite. It's so literal. And such a Flickry (not even) photo of the Hyatt Terre Haute or something. Shit, that makes it a brilliant choice, doesn't it.

Well, maybe it's the Freud, again. I guess I like trying to figure out my favorite. Heh.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

This is great! Main Street is my favorite, between the picture and the little stars.

The fonts on all those books crack me up! Some people should be given access to more than two fonts.