10 Reasons Why We’ll Miss Textbook Covers

Our tribute to a gradually vanishing cultural phenomenon…

The adoption of e-textbooks in higher education certainly comes with its benefits: less paper usage, lighter loads to lug around, and cheaper production costs which may translate to cheaper retail prices. But despite their benefits,e-textbooks may do away with one great source of academic humor: textbook cover art.

Yes, electronic versions still can have “cover” images at the beginning, but they don’t have nearly the same effect as the bold, weird, and random covers of printed textbooks, peeking out from bookshelves and staring us in the face every time we sit down to study.

Funny textbook covers have been a part of the educational experience for the better part of the last century, and we fear they’ll soon be relegated to being just another digitized “page” among hundreds.

Here are the things we’ll miss most about textbook cover art:

1. Nerds

funny textbook cover

You never see ultra-hip people on textbook covers. Even when it seems the intention is for cover models to look “cool,” there’s always a latent geekiness about them. We’re guessing this is an unspoken rule in the publishing industry.


2. Awesomely outdated everything

women and media

Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? You may not be able to tell everything about its content, but you can usually tell if its subject matter is antiquated. In this type of situation the cover plays an especially important role in alerting the reader to be prepared for references to obsolete technology and images of bad hairdos.


3. Pictures on the spine

sloth short

Especially pictures of sloths on the spine! Even when this book is on the shelf it will make you smile. A powered-down e-reader just can’t compete.


4. Bizarre, arty shots

funny textbook cover

So intriguing, they draw you in as you’re browsing the other textbooks and make you revisit your thoughts of taking that Contemporary British Playwrights class.


5. Unbearably literal (ab)use of still life images

funny textbook cover

Really, the radio literally has to be by the book?


6. Clever, not-so-literal images

funny textbook cover

People are much more inclined to read a book (particularly about web cookies) if there’s a delicious-looking chocolate chip cookie (or is that oatmeal raisin?) on the cover!


7. Slightly irrelevant cover art

funny textbook cover

Yes, we get that they’re in a group…but why are they sea lions?


8. Completely irrelevant cover art

funny textbook cover

It’s imperative that all accountants learn about shredding some powder.


9. The chance that Nicolas Cage will make an appearance

Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter on front page of Biology schoolbook, Belgrade, Serbia

We are more easily convinced of a book’s credibility when it features a scene from Raising Arizona on the cover.


10. And finally…

funny textbook cover

This. Nerdy, outdated, and painfully literal. The only thing that would make this better is a sloth on the spine…


Have you seen any amazingly bad textbook covers? We can’t get enough of them—share a picture of your favorite!

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