Starting with the first post in February of this year, a team of volunteers from across the region started scanning and posting images to Instagram as a start at an archive tracing the shifts and movements in Arabic cover design:
The project, led by Egyptian designer Mahmoud El Hosseiny, includes volunteers from Palestine, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. According to an interview in Scene Arabia, the group hopes to launch a full cover-design database in the future.
The Instagram currently showcases mostly twentieth-century covers, although there are some more recent works as well, such as Alaa Murtada’s 2019 children’s book, Damascus: The Story of a City and Radwa Ashour’s 2003 novel A Piece of Europe.
“The ultimate goal of the archive is to try and write history, by providing the necessary material for that to happen,” Elhossieny told an-Nahar.
He added that the target number, before moving to the second stage of work, was 5,000 covers, telling an-Nahar, “This will ultimately provide a good number of material for substantial research to be conducted.”
According to an-Nahar, the second phase will involve organizing the book covers and tagging each other information about the cover and books, while the third will be concerned with the covers’ publication process. “The research team is striving to establish a website which will enable access to researchers, designers and students who are interested in delving deeper into the world of Arabic book covers.”
The archive on Instagram @arabicbookcoverarchive.