Wrox Press, Ltd. is based in the UK, as well as many of its authors. I know this because each author has a short biographical note before the table of contents. You see, Wrox's slogan is Programmer to ProgrammerTM. The biographical notes are there to show you that these authors have real-world computer programming experience. I think that's good.

However, Wrox seems to take their slogan really seriously. In what seems to be an attempt to add a more personal touch to the relationship between their programmer/authors and the reader, they design their covers in a particular way. The covers are a bold, brick red, and are complemented by white and yellow lettering and trim. The front cover has the title prominently displayed on the bottom 40%, and the top 60% is occupied by a black-and-white photo or photos of the author(s).

Now, no offence to the authors, but I really don't want to see anybody's face on the cover of any book in my technical library. Besides the fact that there are some not-too-pleasant-looking authors, it's just not right.

These are technical books. Software design books. Computer books. Other publishers put abstract forms, computer-generated graphics (Coriolis), stock photography (SAMS), and illustrations (Deitel & Deitel) on the cover, or keep it simple with nothing but a title (Addison-Wesley). One of the more non-standard cover designs comes from O'Reilly, which employs woodcuts of animals. For their Java series, they use a more normal approach and use photos of toys.

Even outside the computer book market, it's hard to find a book that puts a picture of the author(s) on the cover that is not a biography or trying to capitalise on the author's face recognition.

Wrox defies all convention. There is no reason these photos can't be placed on the inside cover like other publishers do.

Whoever is taking the photos seems to really like using the hand as support. On the cover of Professional XML, there are twelve authors, eight of whom have their hand planted somewhere against their head; chin on palm, chin between thumb and index, chin on fist, chin on fists, fist on cheek, and further permutations. A sixty-six hand-attached-to-face percentage does nothing but perturb me.

So who exactly is to blame for all of this? Chris Morris, the cover designer? I doubt it. The design's simplicity is devoid of any radicalism and does not agree with the non-traditional paradigm of authors-on-the-cover. It may be a ruse to divert our attention.

Until the mystery is solved, all Wrox books shall lay face-side-down on my desk.

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