I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book. And the book itself looks pretty decent, though how the author fills 300 pages with tricks and tips on Ubuntu it beyond me.
I’m not sure when it happened, but the technical world starting using amusing pictures of animals on the covers of their books some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and they seem to be the only ones I can remember. I’ll bet they typically sell well too.
The first book I can remember buying in this genre was the Pink Camel Perl book in 1995 or so (it was published in 1991), with a picture of a camel on the front. This book proved to be a long-lived reference guide for me, and now I hold onto it for sentimental value. Interestingly enough, I’d never have been able to tell you the name of the book, which is “Programming Perl”. Here is a picture of it:
Oddly, O’Reilly kinda blew it with Ant: The Definitive Guide. It has a picture of a lizard on the front. What’s that about? Wouldn’t you put a picture of an Ant on the cover of this book?
Compare those three covers with these covers, from two of the most important and influential books in programming:
Boring! But again, these are two very important books based on their content. Care to wager how the relative sales numbers of the Camel Book and K&R look?