The October 19 cover of The New Yorker features a painting by Eric Drooker, titled “In the World of Books”. It’s very similar to the image used on the below sticker for Powells Books, in Portland, OR. Actually, Powells has been producing posters and other goods with this theme for some years, in keeping with its slogan, “City of Books”.
So, did a) Eric Drooker lift the graphic idea from Powells? Or, perhaps b) the idea is obvious enough to be independently arrived at, or c) there is some common source. Or, perhaps d) Drooker did the posters/stickers for Powells. I can at least say for b) that I haven’t seen it anywhere else, in years of looking at book and bookstore materials. For d) I note that Drucker’s and the sticker’s painting styles are very different. c) common source: can anyone suggest?
In any case, I think the difference in emphasis, between “City of Books” and “World of Books” is interesting. The “world” of books, in Drooker’s view, contains nothing but books; in Powells’ view, by contrast, books are a large presence, equivalent to the skyscrapers of a city, but they are set amid a real environment: trees, streetlamps, a Portland streetcar going by (like the one that goes past Powells’ main store), and a mountain backdrop (Mt. Hood, Oregon).
The Powells view, to me, seems wiser and more humane. It says, we come together in “cities” to print and sell books. and for cultural conversation. But it isn’t all of life: there are other parts to the city, and there is nature beyond the city. Books are part of this world, are located; they’re not just a fantasy zone, “through the looking glass.”
I admit, I can’t be too quick to dismiss the similarity in layouts. In what year did this style ad campaign for Powell’s Books in Portland appear? Even without the cityscape and mountains in the back drop, the similarly titled World of Books has a glacial feel on the horizon, only you actually see the individual tentatively wandering through whereas in Powell’s, one feels smack dab, juxtaposed against the startling sights and sounds and feel of it all.
There’s a more iconic Powell’s “City of Books” in a painterly style that dates from the mid-1980s that the NY cover looks a lot more like.
Found a copy of the artwork in my old files, which was good because I couldn’t find it anywhere online (it’s why I was looking at your post!)