Smouldering Covers for Ember Library Books

If you’re into vintage paperbacks with illustrated and often hand lettered covers – and you don’t mind some trash and lewdness – have a look at this fantastic gallery of Ember Library paperback cover art. Published between October 8, 1965 – Our Man From Sadisto, the first title published in the famed 0008 series – and September 15, 1967 – The Passionate Pioneer –, almost all of the books featured work by American illustrator Robert Bonfils (he did 93 of the 96 titles).

Having started his illustration career in Chicago in the mid 1950s, Robert Bonfils was hired in the early sixties by Hamling Organization as art director. He produced paperback book covers exclusively for a variety of imprints within the Hamling group, such as Nighstand Books, Leisure Books, Adult Books, Candid Readers and Companion Books and others, commonly known today as Greenleaf Classics.

As cover art on Greenleaf Books was never signed and no records were kept, it was only in the mid eighties, when information surfaced among specialty book collectors, that Robert Bonfils was identified as being the artist of the book covers. This is why it is not known how many covers he did for this company, but estimates run up to at least 1,000 covers. Most of the original art for the Greenleaf covers has mostly been lost, although a few pieces have survived.

Of particular interest for amateurs of typography and lettering are the titles on the paperback covers. While a few feature the usual suspects – Trade Gothic, Franklin Gothic, Melior, Bookman, Cheltenham, Century, Bodoni, Stymie et al – gorgeous hand lettering graces almost two thirds of those covers. There’s a great variety of styles at play, from chilling terror type over casual brush lettering and poppy sans caps to intricate vignettes. These examples have Rian Hughes, Jason Walcott and House Industries written all over it, three of the most fervent archaeologists of popular culture, and this gallery is a wonderful opportunity to discover some of their influences.

See the gallery of Ember Library paperback cover art here.

Via Coudal Fresh Signals


  1. These are fantastic — and very funny!

    Posted by Bonnie on Sep. 17, 2008
  2. Aren’t they? :) I especially like how some of the titles of the 0008 series not so subtly reference the James Bond 007 series. For Your Sighs Only? Nautipuss? Gamefinger? Sadisto Royale? :D

    Posted by Yves Peters on Sep. 17, 2008
  3. I loved the titles so much I got “Go Go Sadisto” tattooed on me.

    Posted by Kevin I. Slaughter on Sep. 21, 2008
  4. Dude, you can bet I wanna see that one! =-O Can you send us a picture?

    Posted by Yves Peters on Sep. 21, 2008
  5. The Book Cover Archive | The FontFeed referenced this article:

    […] (lame pun, I know – it’s past midnight here!) sporadically, mostly when reporting awards and online galleries. Stephen on his part recently did a very popular entry on the Book, Jacket & Journal Show. […]

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