The Original of Laura
The Original of Laura
The Original of Laura

The Original of Laura

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York, 2009


The challenge of designing The Original of Laura was that the material only existed as 138 index cards, which immediately raised the question of how to turn that into a substantial book. What occured to me was that we were publishing an artifact, not a conventional novel, and that the reader should be able to perceive the text exactly as it was written, as well as in typeset transcription. I think the result is a bittersweet but no less invaluable look into how Nabokov’s working methods functioned in the last days of his life. The cards are perforated, so that the reader can remove them and rearrange them, the same way the author was prone to do. As for the jacket, I wanted the book itself to look like it was dying—dying as the author did: with grace, elegance and dignity.

Juror Notes

The handwritten index cards that represent Nabokov’s final unfinished novel are faithfully reproduced (front and back) and are scored so they can be removed.

Collections: 50 Books/50 Covers of 2009
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book


Design firm
Alfred A. Knopf
Art director
Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd
Production coordinator
Andy Hughes
Vladimir Nabokov
Sonny Mehta
Alfred A. Knopf
Trim size
6.25 x 9.25