Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Was a book cover altered to keep people from complaining?

The ampersand is often used in business names and logos such as A&P, AT&T, Barnes & Noble, Bain & Company and Simon & Schuster.

It is inappropriate in book text, but is sometimes used to save space on book covers. I think it's OK and have used the ampersand on at least one of my covers. Some language purists disagree.

While researching a book I'm writing about typography, I spent a lot of time trying to find a book cover with an ampersand on it, that I did not publish.

I ultimately gave up, but a few hours later the FedEx guy brought me two good books -- about typography and graphic design -- with ampersands on the covers.

Strangely, as shown on Amazon.com, the text on the cover of the white space book was later altered to replace one ampersand with “and.”

Maybe the publisher expected people to complain.

But why was the second ampersand allowed to stay?

Will the cover be changed again now that I've published this?

Stay tuned for future unimportant developments.


  1. Michael, NOBODY else notices the stuff you notice.

  2. Interesting. The title page (on Look Inside the Book) shows an ampersand in the title. In theory, the cover title should match the title page title. But the page title on the Amazon page uses "and," and matching that might be seen as a good idea.

    Couple of thoughts on this:

    1. Perhaps the Amazon database does not permit an ampersand (or other special character) in the title field for any book, because the ampersand is reserved for use in the syntax used to query the database. (There are easy workarounds, but if Amazon didn't tell its database analysts to implement them, they may not have thought to on their own.)

    2. The cover designer, being a visual sort of person, may have decided on reflection that the ampersand between authors, falling as it does at the end of a line, looks fine but that an ampersand at the beginning of a line draws too much attention.

    In any case, I wouldn't sweat it. Ampersand means "and" quite literally, and substituting one for the other in display type is information-neutral.