In the early 20th century, book culture thrived in Germany. Emerging from the horrors of World War I, German speaking countries were fertile ground for writers, poets, and artists. Higher literacy rates from the emerging middle-class also meant more readers seeking information and entertainment. Improved printing technologies led to less expensive methods for mass producing books.
With more books on the market than ever before, publishers sought new ways for their books to stand out from the crowd (and thereby, to sell more copies). Publishers often hired artists to illustrate book covers or dust jackets, often intending the front of the book to be as eye-catching and appealing as "small posters". Book design in Germany came to reflect the greater artistic styles and culture of the vibrant Weimar era, featuring images inspired by Expressionism, the Bauhaus school, and Dada.
The Leo Baeck Institute library has a large collection of early edition German language literature from the Weimar era. This is a showcase of just a small sampling of books with striking cover illustrations, ranging from colorful to charming to creepy, from LBI’s collection.