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Aesthetic Books _ Holding 2_Hero (Holding) Image
Photo Courtesy of Assouline

31 Books to Judge by Their Covers

These art tomes are as decorative and rich on the outside as they are inside.
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Phaidon is a global leader as a publisher focused on the creative arts, including photography, design, architecture, fashion, travel, and food. It boasts over 1,500 art books, alone, in its vast catalog. Founded in Vienna in 1923 by Dr. Béla Horovitz and Ludwig Goldscheider, the company was named Phaidon in reference to the Greek philosopher Phaedo, a pupil of Socrates. It aimed to provide attainable books that ranked high in layout and production aspects. By 1937, it had produced large-format versions of books on Van Gogh, Botticelli, and the French Impressionists with many more to follow. The business survived World War II by relocating to Great Britain and distributing through English publishers.

Taschen entered the world of coffee table book publishing from the side door. It began as a comic book publisher based  in Cologne, Germany, in 1980. The expansion was spurred by founder Benedikt Taschen, who desired to expose lesser-seen art such as fetish imagery, queer art, historical erotica, and even adult material to a mainstream audience. This unconventional approach allowed for controversial art to be a subject of Taschen’s publishing. It was presented alongside contemporary photography, painting, design, architecture, and fashion—for which it earns its place as a best-in-class publisher.

The relative newbie of the bunch, Assouline was founded by husband-and-wife team Prosper and Martine Assouline in 1995. They ushered in the contemporary documentation of culture, style, luxury, fashion, and design. These high-quality books with a distinct graphic identity and editorial savoir faire have become the industry’s leader of modern coffee table books—even as the world continues to turn digital.

Rizzoli New York began in 1964 as a prominent bookstore nestled in midtown between Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, and Cartier. In the decade following, Rizzoli would become a prestigious publisher of books with locations across the United States, becoming renowned for its top-notch quality book publishing. It is a leading publisher for books on fashion, interior design, art, architecture, photographer, and culinary pursuits. 

Books were meant to fill bookshelves as a manner of organization and storage. This doesn’t escape the possibility of the shelves also becoming places to make and display art. Nest Casa proposes that captivating book covers be shown off. Books, themselves, can create patterns and become an artistic expression when arranged by color from the spine. Books with lively covers draw attention when propped up and placed alone in an accessible position for the viewer to take a closer look at both the outside and inside.

When considering styling coffee table books, the ability to think beyond the usual living room or library setting adds an unexpected touch. Bedrooms, dining rooms, and even kitchens can all be rooms to enjoy art books.

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