The brilliant people at Internet Archive have cataloged 650 unique Phillip K. Dick book covers from around the world, and the result is a striking look at how the author’s work resonates across cultures. Dick wrote 44 novels and over 120 short stories, but his work was packaged and repackaged thousands of times in translation, movie adaptations, and in later, re-releases. The covers reflect not only the reception of the work, but also the perception of its value over time.
What’s really interesting is the contrast between the covers of more controversial books like The Man in the High Castle. The German version is conspicuously generic, while the Japanese version plays heavy with the Nazi imagery. The imagery obviously has a great deal to do with cultural sensitivities on book store displays, but it’s also about directness of approach. The Man in the High Castle is a politically subversive text about Nazis. You would guess that from the American and Japanese covers, but not the others.
Illustrators also differ in how they envision the precog turned-authoritarian dictator antagonist of The World Jones Made. In some cases, Jones feels innocuous, in others, he resembles a character in Dune.
There is plenty to see in the collection: The covers for the same book can range from minimalist to full-on pulp- fiction. Obviously, the styles vary over time: covers of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep are fairly consistent, until the novel was adapted into the movie Blade Runner. However, after a few clicks, you really get a sense of how both the content and context of each book changes by country. In any case, the collection is a retro-futurist’s dream come true.