55 Covers of Vintage Philosophy, Psychology & Science Books Come to Life in a Short Animation

We all know that toys come alive at night, but what about mid-century vintage paperback covers, such as you might find in the psychology or philosophy sections of a dimly-lit used bookstore?

Watching 55 minimalist covers from graphic and motion designer Henning M. Lederer’s 2200 title-strong collection begin to spin, drift, and seethe in the short animation above, I got the impression that they were the ones dictating the terms. Or perhaps Lederer is the vessel through which the intentions of the original designers—Rudolph de Harak and John + Mary Condon to name a few—flow. Covers is not an act of reimagination or crowd-pleasing irreverence, but rather one logical motion, elegantly applied.

Habitués of used bookstores may find their usual browsing habits slightly altered by the hypnotic results.

Lederer makes no bones about judging books by their covers. Strong graphics, not content, are the primary determining factor as to which titles he acquires. The stately geometrics set in motion here are relics from another age, but the uncluttered abstracts so favored by 60s era publishers are not the only genre to catch his eye.

Shame Drifter, Dusky Desire, and Sinsurance are some of the decidedly non-minimalist titles spicing up his collection’s online gallery. After all of those arrows, angles, and spheres, Lederer might have craved animating something with a bit more…personality.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her post-digital, pre apocalyptic dark comedy, Fawnbook, is now playing in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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