What if your favorite rock album was a book? Christophe Gowans was wondering the same thing. “I got to thinking, well, what would those records look like if they actually were books, if the name of the album was actually the title of a novel or reference book?” Gowans, a graphic designer who lives in London, did just that, reimagining everything from Air to Zeppelin as something you might find on your shelf or in a used bookstore. After creating the covers, he digitally ages them—”I know my way round a retouch or two”—to look as well-loved as the LP sleeves and CD booklets that accompany their musical originals.
The results are as idiosyncratic as the albums themselves. Prince’s Purple Rain is transformed into a sci-fi fantasy by one P. Rogers Nelson. The Beatles’ Abbey Road feels like a well-mannered Penguin Classic. Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs looks like a Book of the Month Club hardcover selection circa 1955. Patti Smith’s Horses trades its famous Mapplethorpe portrait for the look of a popular series of kids’ reference books. And the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks looks like something you’d stuff under your mattress (and then wash your hands).
The full library of Gowans’ literary musical covers lives here. He’s also collected his works in a book, The Record Books: Volume 1.