(The Penguin Press, 2011)

This was the only version of the cover I ever saw for the US edition, and at first I wasn’t wild about it. I thought the colors were a little too South Beach, and that it was altogether too enigmatic. Since the title of the book is already something of a mystery, I thought the cover should do a better job of telegraphing that the book was about memory. I also felt that given the playfulness of the title, the cover needed to be a more serious counterpoint.

In retrospect, I think I was dead wrong on both counts. I’ve come to love the cover. Its strangeness grabs you, and I suspect some bookstore shoppers pick it up just to figure out what it’s about.

A few months ago the cover appeared for about a third of a second in an Apple commercial.

Even though it was tiny on the screen and only visible for a nearly subliminal amount of time, those pastel bands are so strong that you couldn’t miss it. I’m pretty sure I got more e-mails from friends who saw that than I did when I was on The Colbert Report. That’s the power of a good cover.

Joshua Foer, author

It took several tries to get to the final cover, including one that we kinda did as a joke.


In the end, our publisher, Ann Godoff, said that the cover should reference “compartments.” That’s how the final cover became what it is.

The book talks about the “memory palace” technique. You place the things you need to remember in different rooms of the memory palace—things like the cards you have to remember in the competition. Then you walk from room to room and see those objects, so you can remember long sequences of cards at any time.

Joshua suggests making your objects interact with people like celebrities, your family members, etc. in lewd or ridiculous situations—the sexier and crazier the better. This is why I picked the stripper, sumo wrestler, dominatrix, and dinosaur.

Tal Goretsky, designer

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