Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Authors on the Cover of Time

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Jonathan Franzen was to become the first living writer to grace the cover of Time magazine since 2000, when Stephen King made it on. (Twain was on in 2008, but he was dead.)

So I wondered how often Time had featured authors in past. I came across Time’s handy index of covers, and made this graph, showing the 129 writers—dead and alive—Time has featured since 1923.

Here’s the chart, with a five-year moving average. As you might predict, it’s been a long, continuous fall.

Labels: stats


  1. reading_fox says:

    But is this also true of any other wide group of people.

    I would suspect the number of businessmen to have declined. the number of Men to have declined. The number of churches, sportspeople etc etc.
    In fact only things that were unliekly to have graced the cover in the 20s may have risen – women maybe and computers.

    the reason – well possibly – is that are simply more topics around to share the cover space with.

    Statisitics – its nearly always more complicated than it appears.

  2. proximity1 says:

    But is this also true of any other wide group of people.


    Pop stars? Sports heros? Movie stars? “Celebrities” in general? Covers featuring these have declined over all?

    How about military officers–especially of the rank of General? How about covers that feature something photograped in a war zone? These have also declined?

    I doubt it. Consider the (once) mind-numbing stupidity that is Time magazine, then consider your times, then ask yourself if its covers have featured fewer shots of war or of the celebrated but trivial. In other words, the hall-marks of our time.

  3. Anthony says:

    Your count of author covers doesn’t appear to include people like Barack Obama (February 1, 2010), Ben Bernanke (December 28, 2009), Hilary Clinton (November 16, 2009), Jay Leno (September 14, 2009), Dick Cheney (August 3, 2009) – all of whom have written books, but are better known for something else.