Reimagining Programming Book Covers

by Joey deVilla on September 14, 2007

As of this writing, one of the hot items on Reddit is a link to this image of a cover for an old book, Forth on the Atari: Learning by Using Forth


(I’ve been excited about programming languages, but the guy on the cover, judging by his shorts, takes excitement about Forth to a whole new level. Or perhaps he’s excited about his new pair programming partner.)

The Reddit entry was subtitled “You ain’t gonna find a Java book with a cover like this”, which led me to ask “What if more computer books had Boris Vallejo/Julie Bell-style paintings on their covers?” In this article, I show some of my best guesses.

Here’s Bruno Preiss’ Data Structures and Algorithms
with Object-Oriented Design Patterns in Java
with a re-imagined cover:


(Get it? Data structures? Tree? Get it?)

Here’s one of the classics: “SICP”, or more officially, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, by Sussman, Abelson and Sussman:


How about one of the hot books of the moment, the Jolt Award-winning Agile Web Development with Rails?


These new cover designs needn’t to be limited to paintings, just as computer programming books aren’t — consider the wood-cut images of animals on O’Reilly’s books. In looking for new-school computer book images, I stumbled across this pencil illustration with four figures that I thought was perfect for the Gang of Four — here’s a revised cover for Design Patterns:


I don’t think these design should be limited to books you can buy in stores either. Consider the whimsical Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby: what if we took its cartoon foxes and replaced them with the foxes in the painting below?


And finally, if someone writes a book completely devoted to pair programming techniques, I’ve got the perfect Vallejo painting right here:


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eli September 17, 2007 at 12:37 pm

Check out ROOTs logo:

2 Travis Briggs November 9, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Fantastic. I remember reading once that “don’t judge a book by its cover” goes back to days when they all looked the same. Nowadays, you’ve just got to judge those books SOMEHOW…

3 fatima November 29, 2008 at 11:58 pm

nice trees.

4 Anonymoose December 21, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Where’s the Dragon Book??

5 Tom December 22, 2008 at 5:58 am

By the power of greyskull! :)

6 amagrini February 20, 2009 at 8:52 am


7 Elwyn November 11, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Don’t you mean “By the power of Haskell!”

I’ll get my coat…

8 Joey deVilla November 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm


George Takei going 'Oh My'

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: